More fighting in Ukraine as ministers prepare

Berlin meeting
BY RICHARD BALMFORTH AND NATALIA ZINETS-
KIEV Wed Jul 2, 2014
(Reuters) - Ukrainian government forces pressed on with a military drive against pro-
Russian separatists on Wednesday as Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France prepared
a meeting of foreign ministers to try to ring the crisis in Ukraine!s east under control"
Reels fired a shoulder-launched missile that struck and damaged a #U-$% attack
plane, a military spokesman said, while one Ukrainian order guard was killed in the
early hours in a mortar attack on his post on the order with Russia"
&'he armed forces and the (ational Guard are continuing the offensive on terrorists
and criminals" 'he actions of our military are effective and are having results,&
parliament speaker )leksander 'urchynov said"
Ukrainian *resident *etro *oroshenko, under pressure at home to take a forceful line
against separatists who have een fighting government forces since +pril, refused to
renew a ceasefire on ,onday night and ordered a government offensive &to answer the
terrorists, militants and marauders"&
-is move won acking from the United #tates, ut drew fire from Russian *resident
.ladimir *utin who said the newly-elected *oroshenko had veered off the road to
peace"
/n a fresh attempt to stop the spread of the crisis, which has caused the iggest Russia-
West confrontation since the 0old War, Russian, Ukrainian, German and French
foreign ministers were to meet in 1erlin later on Wednesday"
2iplomats cautioned against e3pectations of a reakthrough"
&'here is not a precise o4ective" /t!s an opportunity to work on peace efforts, ut we
don!t want to raise e3pectations,& a French diplomatic source said on 'uesday"
Russian Foreign ,inister #ergei 5avrov had acked the idea of the meeting with
France!s 5aurent Faius and Ukraine!s *avlo 6limkin during a phone conversation
with his German counterpart Frank-Walter #teinmeier late on 'uesday, the Russian
foreign ministry said"
*oroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning the conflict and allowing fighters and
e7uipment to cross the order to support the reels, turned his ack on another
renewal of a 89-day unilateral ceasefire after phone talks involving *utin, German
0hancellor +ngela ,erkel and French *resident Francois -ollande"
&R/G-' ') 2:F:(2 0)U('R;&
While *oroshenko came under attack from *utin, the United #tates rallied to his
defence on 'uesday, with a #tate 2epartment spokeswoman saying he &has a right to
defend his country&"
&/t takes two to keep a ceasefire,& U"#" #tate 2epartment spokeswoman ,arie -arf told
a news riefing" &*resident *oroshenko put in place a seven-day ceasefire< he aided
y it, ut the fact remains that the separatists, many of them weren!t adhering to it,
and he has a right to defend his country"&
*oroshenko and his security chiefs say the reels carried out numerous reaches of a
week-long unilateral ceasefire declared on =une $9 and e3tended y three more days
on =une $>"
'he Ukrainian foreign ministry says $> servicemen have een killed since the start of
the ceasefire"
'he %?-year-old leader, who says he is still committed to a peace plan which has een
largely ignored y the reels, faces a possile popular acklash at home if he does not
take a more forceful line"
'here was no immediate word on overnight military successes y government forces
though acting defence minister ,ykhailo 6oval said late on ,onday that they had
carried out strikes against 8$9 reel positions"
&We have to eliminate the (reel) fighters who have rought misfortune to the land of
the 2onass" +nd we are doing 4ust that,& he said on '. channel &Ukraina&, referring
to the coal mining region where the reels have declared independence"
,ilitary spokesman )leksiy 2mytrashkovsky said the pilot of the #U-$% aircraft that
was struck y a reel missile on Wednesday managed to ring the plane under control
and &destroy& the enemy position"
-e said that since the launch of the new offensive on 'uesday one Ukrainian
paratrooper had een killed y sniper fire and 8@ others wounded"
Ukraine has een in turmoil since a ,oscow-acked president, .iktor ;anukovich,
walked away from a free-trade deal with the :uropean Union last year" -e was toppled
in Feruary after street demonstrations, and ,oscow responded in ,arch y seiAing
Ukraine!s 0rimea region"
#eparatism erupted in the Russian-speaking east in +pril, where reels seiAed
uildings and strategic points, declaring &people!s repulics& and saying they wanted
union with Russia"
+t least 8B9 Ukrainian servicemen and hundreds of others including police, civilians
and reels, have een killed in the fighting"
)n Friday, *oroshenko, defying threats y Russia to carry out retaliatory trade action,
signed the :U deal that ;anukovich had re4ected last year"
'he :U and the United #tates have imposed sanctions on lists of Russian officials and
small firms they lame for undermining Ukraine!s territorial integrity, and have
threatened more serious economic measures if ,oscow does not rein in the reels"
Russia denies supporting them"
(Writing y Richard 1almforth< :diting y *eter Graff)

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