Russia and Germany called for a resumption of Ukraine crisis talks as President Vladimir Putin’s government condemned the shelling of its territory that left one person dead.
Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro yesterday that international representatives should meet as soon as possible, probably via video link, said Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s spokesman. The so-called contact group on Ukraine should work to secure a cease-fire and a resumption of monitoring, he said.
Clashes between Ukraine’s government forces and pro-Russia rebels in the east of the country have intensified since President Petro Poroshenko called off a cease-fire July 1. Putin and Merkel met as Russia warned of “irreversible consequences” after the Foreign Ministry said a Ukrainian army shell killed one person in the southern region of Rostov. Ukraine said its military didn’t fire on Russian territory and is ready to help investigate the incident.
“Both leaders agreed that, unfortunately, the situation in Ukraine is degrading,” Peskov told reporters after Putin and Merkel met. The Russian leader expressed his “extreme concern” about Ukraine’s continuing offensive operations and today’s “tragedy,” Peskov said.
Effective controls on Ukraine’s border with Russia and an exchange of prisoners are important prerequisites for a cease-fire, the German government said in an e-mailed statement. The contact group on Ukraine comprises representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and from two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.
A convoy of about 100 armored vehicles was tracked entering Ukraine from Russia, while seven government servicemen were killed and 30 wounded in the past 24 hours, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told reporters in Kiev yesterday. Government troops conducted five air strikes against rebel bases and transport, he said.
“For every life of one of our soldiers, the militants will pay with dozens and hundreds of theirs,” President Poroshenko said in Kiev July 11 after 23 government soldiers were killed and 93 wounded in an attack by the insurgents. “Every single one will be held accountable and get their due.”
The European Union should give a “proper assessment” of illegal border crossings by military vehicles, and the Ukraine question should be placed on the agenda of a July 16 meeting of the Council of Europe, Poroshenko said on his website yesterday after holding a phone conversation with EU President Herman Van Rompuy. He demanded that all prisoners being held in Russia be released.
The two leaders agreed that Russia needs to support the cease-fire, release all hostages, prevent the transit of weapons and fighters across the border and engage in a road-map for talks, the prime minister’s office said. The U.S. and European Union should impose further sanctions on Russia should they fail to take those steps, they said.
The EU two days ago named 11 more people it is sanctioning for supporting the insurrection, including leaders of the self-declared republics in Donetsk and Luhansk. The 28-nation bloc has blacklisted 72 people and two companies connected with the destabilization of Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March.
The EU’s first opportunity to consider wider penalties on Russian industry, investment or trade will be at a July 16 summit. Objections by countries such as Italy, Austria, Slovakia, France and Greece have frustrated moves toward broader sanctions, which require unanimity.
Ukraine’s April 2023 dollar bonds closed at the highest since June 2013 at the end of last week after Standard & Poor’s raised the outlook on the country’s credit rating to stable from negative, citing a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The nation’s CCC ranking, eight levels below investment grade, was left in place.
Ukraine expects the Russian authorities to undertake an “objective” assessment of the causes of the tragic events in the Rostov region, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Government troops did not and will not open fire on a neighboring state and residential areas, it said.
The Rostov incident is an “escalation of the danger to our citizens on our own territory,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told state television. “Clearly, this won’t go unanswered.”