July 1, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned Ukraine for ending a truce with separatist rebels in the east.
He said his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko must now bear direct responsibility for the conflict.
Mr Poroshenko blamed “criminal elements” as he ended the ceasefire and launched a full-scale military operation using aircraft and artillery.
Four people were killed in a minibus when shells hit the rebel-held town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk region.
In other fighting
- A policeman was reported killed in the city of Donetsk when separatist fighters tried to seize the interior ministry’s regional headquarters.
- A tank battle between rebels and government forces was reported near the town of Karlivka
- Ukrainian forces said they had regained control of the Dovzhanskyy crossing on the Russian border
- Mr Putin said he and European leaders had tried but failed to keep Ukraine on a path to peace.
Speaking to Russian ambassadors in Moscow, Mr Putin said: “Unfortunately, President Poroshenko has decided to resume military action.
“Neither myself nor our colleagues from Europe have been able to convince him that war cannot lead to well-established and lasting peace.”
A four-way teleconference on Monday between Mr Poroshenko, Mr Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had raised hopes the truce would be renewed.
But Mr Poroshenko said in an emotional late night televised address on Monday: “The decision not to continue the ceasefire is our answer to terrorists, militants and marauders.” He accused the separatists of multiple violations of Ukraine’s unilaterally called ceasefire.
Mr Putin countered: “Up until now, President Poroshenko was not directly involved with orders to start military action. He has now assumed this responsibility fully – not only militarily, but also politically.”
- Mr Putin vowed he would continue to defend ethnic Russians abroad, using all means available from humanitarian aid to “self-defence”.
- Mr Putin also said the West was using the Ukraine crisis to destabilise the whole region as part of a policy to “contain” Russia.
He said Ukraine’s affairs were an internal matter.
“We need some kind of insurance net around all of Europe so that the Iraqi, Libyan, Syrian – and unfortunately we have to mention the Ukrainian – scenarios do not become a contagious disease,” Mr Putin said.
Russia’s foreign ministry said Ukraine would “have to answer for crimes against peaceful civilians”.