Truce in Ukraine violated, but holding for now


Renewed fighting has shaken the already fragile ceasefire in Ukraine, raising fears it could collapse.

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

Renewed fighting has shaken the already fragile ceasefire in Ukraine, raising fears it could collapse.

A woman was killed during shelling in Mariupol, and there has also been more fighting near Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine.

Brianna Roberts reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Just days after a ceasefire came into place in eastern Ukraine, the government and pro-Russian militants are accusing each other of violating the terms of the deal.

The truce and a so-called 12 point peace roadmap were signed during talks involving Ukraine, Russia, the separatist rebels and European representatives on Friday.

By the weekend, there were reports the rebels had shelled and destroyed a government checkpoint on the eastern approaches to Mariupol.

Officials say a female civilian has been killed in the shelling and three others have been injured.

One pro-Russian fighter says the ceasefire is falling apart.

(Translated) "There was mortar shelling around 20 minutes here. At least four civilian houses were burned down. People have lost their homes. Ceasefire? What ceasefire? No-one is honoring it. We captured eight Ukrainian army soldiers. They surrendered without a shot."

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations it has been sending troops into eastern Ukraine to help the rebels.

However, the human rights group Amnesty International says it has evidence of direct Russian involvement in Ukraine.

Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty says the group has satellite images showing a build up of Russian armour and artillery in the region.

"Russia can't deny being a party to the conflict anymore. Very systematic, well organised mobile artillery and armoured units (are) in place. There's no way the separatist forces could have organised that themselves. On top of that, we also have eyewitness accounts of movement of Russian tanks across the border. So, I think really that it's not deniable anymore. As far as we are concerned, it's an international conflict."

The renewed violence came hours after a phone call between Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

They had agreed the ceasefire was generally being observed.

A spokesman for Ukraine's national security council, Volodymyr Polyovyi, insists the ceasefire is still in force.

(Translated) "The firing and shelling is a violation of ceasefire conditions. The situation is under control now. And at the moment, we are not talking about a cancellation of the ceasefire agreement."

Despite the ceasefire being breached, neither the pro-Russian nor Ukrainian side is willing to declare the truce officially over.

But pro-Russian rebel leader Pavel Gubarev has told the BBC there is unfinished business to be resolved.

(Translated) "Of course, I will be glad if missiles stop exploding here. But I will be more satisfied when our rebel army reaches the border of Romania. Then, there will be an independent state called New Russia."

On the Ukrainian side, forces are also preparing for a renewed fight.

Ukrainian commander Andriy Biletssy has told the BBC he does not expect the ceasefire to last.

(Translated) "The whole history of Russian-Ukrainian relations, and of this war, tells us that they won't adhere to the ceasefire and the war will start again. "It's a question of five to seven days, no more."

For many residents of Donetsk and Mariupol, hopes for a lasting peace appear to be fading.

In Mariupol, this woman expressed doubt the ceasefire would last.

(Translated) "I don't know why this has happened. There's no ceasefire, and there never will be."






Source: World News Australia

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