Poroshenko: EU and West must stay united for Ukraine peace

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Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday called on Europe and the West to stay united to help stabilize the country’s war-torn east, during a Ukraine-EU summit in Kiev.

Poroshenko: EU and West must stay united for Ukraine peace

Ukraine seeks EU help as shelling blazes in east

KIEV, April 27, 2015 (AFP) – European leaders on Monday resisted Ukraine’s demands for peacekeepers to stabilise its war-torn east, as monitors reported a surge in shelling near a strategic government-held city.

Top European Union officials at a summit with the former Soviet state did however agree to boost humanitarian support as Kiev fights separatists in the east whom its Western allies accuse Russia of backing.

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say shelling is rumbling on in the east despite a ceasefire deal signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February.

Ukraine’s pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko called on the EU officials “to deploy an international peacekeeping mission in our country which will contribute to the complete fulfilment of the Minsk accords”.

Kiev’s European and US allies are reluctant to send weapons or troops to Ukraine for fear of escalating the conflict, which has damaged their relations with Moscow.

“We know about Ukrainian expectations today, but it’s impossible to send a military mission,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council of EU leaders, after meetings with Poroshenko on Monday.

Tusk did say however that the EU would “send as soon as possible a civilian assessment mission… to assess the humanitarian situation” in Ukraine.

The conflict between government troops and pro-Russian rebels has killed more than 6,000 people in the past year and displaced more than a million, according to the United Nations.

– Anti-corruption drive –

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The EU leaders pressured Ukraine’s government to speed up reforms to clean up Ukrainian politics and business in return for closer ties with the bloc.

“You have a powerful enemy, but you also have a lot of friends. You can count on their help, but it will not be enough unless you yourself change Ukraine,” Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said in Ukrainian on arrival in Kiev.

He spoke after visiting a memorial to protesters killed during last year’s uprising against Ukraine’s pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych, whose ousting preceded the current conflict.

Poroshenko’s government touted recent reforms such as the setting up of a new anti-corruption bureau.

He said he was aiming for Ukraine to be ready to apply for EU membership within five years.

But he warned the country first needs more help to stabilise the east, where separatists have seized partial control of two regions and are exchanging shell fire with government forces.

Ukraine’s leaders were to meet other international officials on Tuesday at a conference to showcase their reforms and lure much-needed investment for their battered economy.

– ‘Intense shelling’ –

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Western officials point to mounting evidence that Russia is sending arms and troops to the separatists, but Moscow has repeatedly denied that.

The OSCE said its monitors had witnessed “the most intense shelling” near the flashpoint town of Shyrokyne since fighting began there in mid-February, as well as movement of heavy weapons.

Throughout Sunday they “observed sporadic to continuous exchanges of fire involving small arms, machine gun, rocket propelled grenade and automatic grenade launcher,” it said in a statement.

Shyrokyne lies a few kilometres (miles) from the port of Mariupol, the biggest city still under government control in the conflict zone.

Separatists have threatened a new offensive against Mariupol after commemorations of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II on May 9 are out of the way.

“The Ukrainian security services are examining this situation carefully. They are ready to immediately react to any provocation,” Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told reporters on Monday.

He said one Ukrainian government soldier had been killed and three injured at the front in the past day.

END

Tags : peace, Ukraine, united, stay, must, West, Poroshenko

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