Kerry to Discuss Ukraine With Russia as Rebels Continue

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tomorrow after pro-Russian rebels continued to clash with Ukraine troops in several locations including the Donetsk airport.

The U.S. is concerned about renewed fighting in east Ukraine and has no details about the content of a Russian convoy that entered and left Ukraine over the weekend, a State Department official said. Russia still has about 25,000 troops along the border and more than 3,000 soldiers inside the country, according to the Ukrainian government.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied supporting pro-Russian rebels in the war-torn eastern regions, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk yesterday said that Putin seeks to restore the Soviet Union and take the entire country. The conflict has claimed more than 3,000 lives and clashes have occurred daily since a truce took effect Sept. 5.

Kerry will meet with Lavrov at a conference on Iraq that will take place in Paris tomorrow. Artillery attacks on Ukrainian army positions occur in three to five spots per day, Defence Minister Valeriy Geletey said at a press conference in Kiev today.

Airport Attack

The Donetsk airport was shelled from east and south on Saturday in two rebel attacks that were repelled, and troops were also shelled in the Luhansk region, a military spokesman said today. In Donetsk, artillery fire occurred in two of the city’s districts just before midday today, according to the city council.

In addition, militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic were using guns and mortar to try to break through Ukrainian troop lines near Panteleymonivka north of Donetsk, the Ukrainian military said. Three Ukrainian border soldiers were wounded near the southern city of Mariupol when they were returning from patrol duty in a car, the Ukrainian state border service said yesterday

The U.S. on Sept. 12 expanded sanctions against Russia to Include OAO Sberbank, the country’s largest bank, because of the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The European Union added 15 companies, including Gazprom Neft, OAO Rosneft and Transneft, and 24 people to its own list of those affected by its restrictions.

Soviet Union

“Putin cannot cope with the idea that Ukraine will be part of the European family,” Yatsenyuk said at a conference in Kiev yesterday. “He wants to restore the Soviet Union.”

“His goal is to take the entire Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk told the Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting. “Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of the whole of Europe.”

The second Russian convoy of 220 trucks entered and left Ukraine over the weekend, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said. All vehicles crossed into Ukraine without being inspected by Ukrainian border guards, customs officers or the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to the OSCE. The OSCE cited Russian officials as saying the convoy carried only food products.

The U.S. will participate in an annual training exercise in Ukraine with 14 other nations that begins tomorrow, according to a statement from Navy Captain Greg Hicks, a spokesman for U.S. European Command.

The two-week field training exercise, which won’t include any live fire, was planned before the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, Hicks said. About 1,300 military personnel from the U.S., Ukraine, Great Britain, Poland, Canada, Georgia and Germany, among other countries, will take part in the exercise to be conducted near Yavoriv, Hicks said.

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