Monday, September 08, 2014

Cease-Fire Holds In eastern Ukraine

 Pro-Russian rebels sit in their car with a heavy machine gun in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Strong explosions were heard early Sunday on the outskirts of the main rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine near the airport, raising new fears that a cease-fire signed two days ago is on the verge of collapse. Blasts powerful enough to be heard in downtown Donetsk came from the area near the airport, which has been under the control of government troops since May and has come under unremitting attacks from pro-Russia separatist rebels since then.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A cease-fire between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government troops appeared to be largely holding in eastern Ukraine Monday, a day after shelling and clashes rattled nerves and imperiled the peace deal.
In a statement published online, the city council of Donetsk said there had been no reported casualties overnight and that public transport would be up and running on Tuesday. No shelling or explosions could be heard overnight in downtown Donetsk.
The regional administration of Donetsk announced that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko would be traveling to the coastal city of Mariupol on Monday, a symbolic show of strength in a government-held city that has come under rebel fire in recent days.
The area around Mariupol had remained relatively untouched by violence until recent weeks, when rebel forces pushed toward the coastal town, shelling the city's outskirts as recently as Saturday. The city is strategically placed on the Sea of Azov coastline, raising fears that the Moscow-backed rebels could be pushing to link up mainland Russia with Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March.
The Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported Monday that 15 Ukrainian soldiers had been released by rebel forces, another key element of a peace deal between the rebels and Ukrainian troops. The cease-fire was imposed late Friday, but was thrown into peril over the weekend by the Mariupol shelling and fighting near the airport of Donetsk. A previous 10-day cease-fire in June was riddled by reports of violations on both sides.
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