Ukraine tightens cordon around rebellious city
The Associated Press
DONETSK, Ukraine — A pro-Russia militia holding an eastern Ukrainian city came under further pressure Tuesday from advancing government troops, but militants acted with impunity elsewhere in the turbulent region.
The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia met Tuesday, but their open disagreements did nothing to suggest a diplomatic solution was near.
Diplomacy was to be taken up again on Wednesday during a meeting in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, whose country currently chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Russia and the West have expressed a desire for the OSCE to play a greater role in defusing the tensions in Ukraine.
Ukrainian military operations that began Monday to expunge pro-Russia forces from the city of Slovyansk were the interim government’s most ambitious effort so far to quell weeks of unrest in Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking east.
Four government troops and 30 militants were killed in the gunbattles, Ukraine’s interior minister said Tuesday. The pro-Russia militia said 10 people were killed, including civilians. There was no immediate way to reconcile the figures.
In the southwest, Kiev authorities also attempted to reassert control over the region around Odessa, a major Black Sea port, by appointing a new governor on Tuesday.
This nation of 46 million was thrown into a political crisis after its Moscow-leaning president, whose base was in eastern Ukraine, fled to Russia in February following months of protests in Kiev. Across the region in recent weeks, armed insurgents who have seized dozens of government buildings.