Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ukrainian Leader Vows not to Cede any Territory

With a fragile truce barely holding in eastern Ukraine, President Petro O. Poroshenko visited the port city of Mariupol on Monday, not far from where Ukrainian forces suffered severe losses in recent days, and declared that his government would never relinquish territory that some separatists claim historically belongs to Russia.
“Just arrived in Mariupol,” Mr. Poroshenko declared in a Twitter post. “This is our Ukrainian land. We will never give it up to anyone.”
President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine spoke with 
workers in the port city of Mariupol on Monday. 
Credit Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters        
Mr. Poroshenko’s visit came as sporadic violations of the cease-fire were reported in several parts of the region. Although the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government troops has quieted down substantially since the cease-fire was announced on Friday, it has not stopped. Still, officials on all sides seemed eager to sustain the truce — by force of will if nothing else.
From Mariupol, Mr. Poroshenko spoke by telephone with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and their offices each issued brief statements saying the two leaders were working to support the cease-fire.
The 12-point agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus, by representatives of the Ukrainian government, the separatists, Russia and the O.S.C.E., includes a proposal for increased political autonomy in eastern Ukraine, but a long-term political settlement is expected to be extremely difficult to reach.
President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine with army troops at
the Mariupol airport on Monday. Credit Pool
photo by Mykola Lazarenko
In a speech in Mariupol, Mr. Poroshenko said that the sides were complying with a provision in the truce agreement that calls for the exchange of all captives, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. He said the separatists had released 1,200 captives to the Ukrainian side so far.
Tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian crisis continued to run high on Monday. The European Union was reported to be close to imposing a new round of economic sanctions intended to penalize Moscow and its allies for their role in the seizure of Crimea and in the rebel uprising in the east.
Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia warned that his government would retaliate against any new sanctions, perhaps by banning Western airlines from flying through Russian airspace, as many do on long-haul flights to Asia.
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