Ukraine Tightens Controls Along Borders With Russia, Rebel Areas

Ukraine halted transportation links with Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March, and stepped up checks along its borders on concern that saboteurs might attempt to enter the country from breakaway areas.

“Very intensive saboteur and reconnaissance actions are being carried out now,” Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters today in Kiev. “This measure is temporary. It won’t be permanent.”

The increased security highlights the risk that the conflict may reignite even after Ukraine and rebels held their biggest prisoner swap yet yesterday. Russia has no information on measures taken by Ukraine to halt transportation into and out of Crimea, state news service RIA Novosti reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Police in the coastal Ukrainian city of Odessa said one man was killed in a blast today, possibly while transporting an explosive device. Investigators also opened a criminal investigation after shots were fired at the home of the mayor of Lviv, Interfax reported.

Rebels have continued to fire on Ukrainian positions over the past 24 hours, though no soldiers were killed, Lysenko said. Ukraine released 222 captives in exchange for 146 military personnel in a swap with rebels yesterday.

Minsk Talks

No date has been set for new talks in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, where negotiators agreed on the prisoner exchange. The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic hopes new talks will be held before year end, and possibly as soon as tomorrow, Interfax reported.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is a party to the so-called contact group that has been meeting in Minsk, said a meeting scheduled to be conducted in the city yesterday should be held “without further delay,” according to a website statement.

Russia also agreed to send coal and electricity to Ukraine, easing a power shortage that has led to blackouts. Coal shipments will start at 500,000 tons per month and could be increased to 1 million, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Rossiya 24 television.

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