Tag Archives: Minsk

Another suspected Russian soldier was caught with a truck full of ammunition in Ukraine

weapons ukraine russia
Weapons found inside a suspected Russian military truck crossing the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian border guards detained a soldier suspected of being a Russian army officer who was picked up while riding in a military truck packed with ammunition at the Berezove checkpoint, about 28 miles southwest of the militant-held city of Donetsk.

Guards found nearly 200 cases containing grenades and ammunition, including rocket-propelled shells, inside the military truck.

“He (the Russian officer) had no documents. But he admitted that he was a chief of an RAO (rocket-artillery weapons unit). He is responsible for ammunition supply.

He said that while delivering the ammunition they had got lost,” Oleksandr Tomchyshyn, a border-guards spokesman said. Another man who was detained identified himself as a pro-Russian separatist fighter.

skitch berezove ukraine russia conflict map
National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine

If he is confirmed as a Russian soldier, Ukraine is likely to use the case to bolster its charges that Russia is continuing direct involvement in the 15-month-long conflict and failing to honor a peace agreement worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February.

 Meanwhile, Ukraine and Western countries contend that Russia is providing troops and weaponry to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Since April 2014, at least 6,400 people have been killed in the region while Russia continues to deny such allegations, the Associated Press reports.

A spokesman said the two men may have taken a wrong direction and driven toward Ukrainian forces manning a checkpoint southwest of the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk by mistake.

“We can assume that they took a wrong direction while driving, got lost, and came on our checkpoint,” military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanuk told a briefing.

more weapons ukraine russia
Screen grab/Ukraine TodayMore weapons found crossing into the Berezove checkpoint.

The two men wore military uniforms without insignia and carried no identity documents, he said.

In the face of what Kiev and Western governments say is undeniable proof, Moscow denies its regular forces are engaged actively in the conflict on behalf of the separatists.

Though a fragile ceasefire seems to be holding, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine’s industrialized Russian-speaking east.

Ukraine is still holding two Russian soldiers who were captured in May and have been charged with terrorism. Russia says the two men had quit their special-forces unit to go to Ukraine on their own.

Here is a video of the truck found at the Berezove checkpoint:

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Ukraine crisis: Rebel ‘status’ row threatens truce deal

Rebel tanks in Luhansk, file pic

Ukraine’s MPs have approved changes to the “special status” law for parts of rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine.

The law will now come into force only after local elections monitored by international observers are held in the areas according to Ukrainian law.

The amendments also envisage the pullout of “all illegal armed groups” from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Pro-Russian rebels and Moscow accuse Ukraine of introducing new terms that threaten last month’s ceasefire deal.

Following the agreement in Minsk, Belarus, the ceasefire took effect on 15 February and has largely held despite sporadic shelling.

Both Ukraine and the rebels claim to have withdrawn heavy weapons from the line of contact.

‘Temporarily occupied territories’

The changes to the “special order of self-government” in parts of the two eastern regions were adopted after heated discussion in parliament in Kiev on Tuesday.

The law itself was approved last year.

Self-government for the pro-Russian rebel areas is a key part of the Minsk deal, and Mr Poroshenko’s new legislative proposals are aimed at furthering that agreement.

Map

But a Russian Foreign Ministry statement (in Russian) said the proposals put before Ukrainian MPs included “additional terms never previously discussed”.

The ministry said President Poroshenko had “totally ignored” Minsk provisionscalling for dialogue with the pro-Russian rebels on arrangements for local elections and the regions’ future status.

A statement from a Donetsk rebel leader, Denis Pushilin, also castigated Mr Poroshenko over the “non-agreed amendments”, which he said “breach the spirit and letter of the Minsk accords”.

Mr Pushilin said “the Minsk process is in fact interrupted” because Mr Poroshenko “does not respect the Donbas [Donetsk and Luhansk] people, he does not want peace”.

Mr Poroshenko’s bill says special status would have to follow local elections held in accordance with Ukrainian law and under international observation.

In addition, he says the elections would have to take place without any presence of “mercenaries” and with open access for Ukrainian media.

Separately, Ukrainian MPs adopted a resolution describing as “temporarily occupied territories” parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Kiev government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia has helped the rebels with troops and heavy weapons. Russia denies that, insisting that any Russians on the rebel side are “volunteers”.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in clashes since the rebels seized large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions last April – a month after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula.

The War In Ukraine Has Reached Another Critical Phase

An aerial footage shot by a drone shows a multi-storey control tower of the Sergey Prokofiev International Airport damaged by shelling during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, seen in this still image taken from a January 15, 2015 handout video by Army. REUTERS/Army.SOS/Handout via Reuters
Still image taken from handout aerial footage shot by a drone shows a multistory control tower of the Sergey Prokofiev International Airport damaged by shelling during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces, in Donetsk.

 

Ukrainian troops launched a “mass operation” overnight, retaking almost all the territory of Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine lost to separatists in recent weeks, even as thousands gathered in Kiev for a state-sponsored peace march on Sunday.

The army’s offensive at the airport brought the fighting close to the big industrial city of Donetsk itself, center of a pro-Russian separatist rebellion.

Residents reported intensified outgoing shelling including from residential areas in central parts of the separatist-held city.

With attempts to restart peace talks stalled, pro-Russian rebels have stepped up attacks in the past week and casualties have mounted, including the deaths of 13 civilians in an attack on a passenger bus, which Kiev has blamed on the separatists.

The separatists had gained control of new areas of the airport and retaking much of this territory was a symbolic victory for Kiev, whom rebels have accused of escalating the conflict.

“The decision was taken for a mass operation … We succeeded in almost completely cleaning the territory of the airport, which belongs to the territory of Ukrainian forces as marked by military separation lines,” military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a televised briefing.

Lysenko said the operation had returned the battle lines near the airport to the previous status quo and that the Ukrainian army had thus not violated the Minsk 12-point peace plan agreed with Russia and separatist leaders last September.

President Petro Poroshenko underlined the need to fight for Ukraine‘s territorial integrity, as he addressed a crowd of several thousand gathered for a peace march in memory of those killed on the passenger bus.

“We will not give away one scrap of Ukrainian land. We will get back the Donbass … and show that a very important aspect of our victory is our unity,” he said.

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko accused Kiev of attempting to return to all-out war, blaming the shelling around Donetsk on Ukrainian army troops.

“We’re talking about Kiev trying to unleash war again,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

UkraineUkrainian government

SYMBOL OF VALOUR

In Kiev, the army defenders of the airport are known by the science-fiction nickname of “cyborgs” in tribute to what is perceived as their superhuman valour.

“Just this past night our ‘cyborgs’ at Donetsk airport demonstrated their courage, patriotism, heroism, as a model for how our country must be defended,” Poroshenko said.

A ceasefire agreed at the talks in Minsk, capital of Belarus, in early September has been regularly violated from the start by both sides, and hopes of de-escalation have diminished in recent days as violence flared after plans for peace talks last week were abandoned.

In Donetsk, residents reported a sharp intensification of fighting.

“It was impossible to sleep — explosions, the walls were shaking. It seemed like they were firing from near the building … The DNR (rebel) army were firing from our district,” 53-year-old advertising executive Alla said by telephone.

Forty-year-old plumber Andrey Tkachenko, who lives in southern district of Donetsk, said the shelling had become noticeably worse in the past 24 hours.

“By now we are able to tell from the sound what’s flying. We’re used to the GRAD missiles, but now something stronger is firing all night and all day,” he said.

The World Health Organisation says more than 4,800 people have been killed in the conflict pitting Kiev’s forces against separatists whom the West say are supported and armed by Russia.

Despite what Kiev and the West says is incontrovertible proof, Russia denies its troops are involved or that it is funneling military equipment to the separatists.

With its runways pitted and cratered, the airport itself, with a multi-storey control tower and extensive outbuildings, has long since ceased to function.

But its hulk, battered by shelling and gunfire, has taken on symbolic value for both sides with government soldiers and separatists hunting each other often at close range in a deadly cat-and-mouse game among the ruins.

Ukraine, Russia Talks End, With ‘Certain Progress’ Reported

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right) talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin (left), as French President Francois Hollande (center) looks on during talks in Milan on October 17.

The Ukrainian and Russian presidents have ended a bilateral meeting in Milan, with somewhat contradictory versions of the talks’ outcome.

The 45-minute talks were held behind closed doors on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit on October 17, after Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin met twice in the space of 10 hours in the company of various European Union leaders.

After his first face-to-face meeting with Putin since late August, Poroshenko said no practical results on resolving a dispute over gas supplies from Russia had been achieved.

“We do have certain progress, but some details are yet to be discussed,” Poroshenko said.

Russia raised the price it charges Kyiv for natural gas after Ukraine’s pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February, then halted gas supplies to Ukraine in June when Kyiv failed to pay the higher price.

Poroshenko expressed hope that the sides will find a solution to the dispute before October 21, when a new round of talks with the EU is planned.

Meanwhile, Putin said the sides agreed on the terms of gas supplies “at least for the winter period.”

Putin said Russia is ready to reduce Ukraine’s gas debt by $1 billion to $4.5 billion by retroactively offering a lower gas price.

He also expressed hope that Ukraine’s Western partners would help the country overcome its cash deficit.

On October 16 in Belgrade, Putin warned that Europe faces “major transit risks” to gas supplies from Russia this winter if Ukraine siphons gas from transit pipelines.

Russia is the EU’s biggest external gas supplier, providing about one-third of the gas consumed there, and previous price disputes between Moscow and Kyiv have led to supply cuts that have chilled Europeans in wintertime.

The Russian president also said the agreements reached in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, last month on settling the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are not being implemented fully by either side in the conflict. 

He said that Moscow was ready to further mediate the peace process but insisted that it was no party to the conflict.

Putin also said Moscow agreed a deal with France, Germany, and Italy to use reconnaissance drones to monitor fighting in Ukraine.

A first round of talks in Milan was attended by Putin, Poroshenko, Merkel, and Hollande, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and outgoing EU leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 3,660 combatants and civilians since April and driven Moscow’s ties with the West to post-Cold War lows, prompting punitive sanctions against Moscow and a Russian ban on many foods from the EU, its biggest trading partner for years.

Russia blames the conflict on the EU, the United States, and the pro-Western government that gained power in Ukraine after Yanukovych’s ouster. 

Kyiv, NATO, and Western governments say Russia has supported the rebels with troops, weaponry, and propaganda after illegally annexing the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in March.

Western leaders say Moscow must see to it that a cease-fire and steps toward peace agreed on September 5 in Minsk are implemented.

Germans set to send first troops to Ukraine since WW2

Germany is poised for its first deployment of troops in Ukraine amid the crumbling ceasefire between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government. Pictured: Donetsk International Airport damaged during fighting

Berlin is mulling sending troops to monitor the shaky ceasefire between Kiev forces and local militia in eastern Ukraine, a German government source told Reuters.

The source told the agency that a German troop deployment would depend on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which could move to send in troops to monitor the ceasefire it helped broker on September 5 in Minsk, Belarus.

If such a political decision were made, the number of troops sent by Germany would depend on the security situation in Ukraine and conditions set by the OSCE, the source said.

OSCE observers take pictures at the site where pro-Russian say is a mass grave with five bodies, in the town of Nizhnaya Krinka, eastern Ukraine, September 23, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

German newspaper Bild, however, said that 200 soldiers were planned for the mission. Around 150 would help monitor the crisis area with drones, and an additional 50 would provide security.

Last month, France and Germany offered to send drones to help bolster OSCE monitoring of the ceasefire in Ukraine’s troubled east.

The daily said the mission was in reaction to a Franco-German fact-finding mission in mid-September, which determined that the ceasefire could only be effectively monitored if boots on the ground provided security for monitoring staff.

A Ukrainian serviceman (R) and OSCE observers wait on a road near Donetsk.(AFP Photo / Anatolii Stepanov)

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told Reuters that Berlin and Paris are hammering out a plan to support the OSCE mission, but were only in the exploratory phase.

Germany has also dispatched more than 100 trucks from 17 different cities to deliver aid, including mobile kitchens, heating devices and blankets, to Ukraine, Der Spiegel reported.

The aid, set to be distributed by mid-October, will specifically be deployed to the east of the country before the onset of winter. The value of the cargo is estimated at 10 million euro.

A pro-Russian rebel tank rolls to take position near to the airport in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine

Meanwhile, the OSCE called for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine on Friday after civilians and a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were killed.

Kiev and militia forces have accused each other side of being responsible for the deaths resulting from the shelling of residential areas in Donetsk.

“The ceasefire represented a real opportunity for a sustainable de-escalation of the situation; to put it at risk would be irresponsible and deplorable,” Didier Burkhalter, the OSCE chairperson-in-office, was quoted by the organization’s press service as saying.

Burkhalter added that civilians Ukraine’s east needed a return to normalcy, while humanitarian aid agencies needed to be able to safely reach them before winter.

According to reports, fighting for Donetsk Airport has continued on Saturday. Ukrainian military spokesman Andrey Lysenko told journalists that 12 militia members were killed during the assault, “the biggest single loss among rebels since September 5.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) has led European moves to secure peace in Ukraine, but until now Berlin has been reluctant to deploy even peacekeeping troops because of the country’s role in the Second World War

Lysenko added that two Ukrainian servicemen were killed during the past 24 hours, though he provided no further details. He denied local reports that rebels had used gas during their assault on the airfield.

Fighters in Donetsk said they were honoring the truce, ITAR-TASS new agency reported, citing a statement from the self-proclaimed republic’s Defense Ministry.

At least 3,627 people have been killed and approximately 8,446 wounded since violence broken out in eastern Ukraine earlier this year, according to a UN report released on Friday.

On Saturday, Russia’s Federal Migration Service said that 880,000 Ukrainians have arrived and stayed in Russia since hostilities broke out in Ukraine.

Ukraine and rebels to seek peace plan, ceasefire on Friday

Members of the military special forces sit on an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.   REUTERS-Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the main pro-Russian rebel leader said they would both order ceasefires on Friday, provided that an agreement is signed on a new peace plan to end the five month war in Ukraine’s east.

The first apparent breakthrough of its kind in the war comes after a week in which the pro-Moscow separatists scored major victories with what NATO says is the open support of thousands of Russian troops.

Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales, Poroshenko said the ceasefire would be conditional on a planned meeting going ahead in Minsk on Friday of envoys from Ukraine, Russia and Europe’s OSCE security watchdog.

Soldiers of Ukrainian self-defence battalion 'Azov' sit in a truck loaded with ammunition at a check point in the southern coastal town of Mariupol September 4, 2014. REUTERS-Vasily Fedosenko

“At 1400 local time (7.00 a.m. EDT on Friday), provided the (Minsk) meeting takes place, I will call on the General Staff to set up a bilateral ceasefire and we hope that the implementation of the peace plan will begin tomorrow,” Poroshenko told reporters.

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said in a statement that the separatists would also order a ceasefire, from one hour later, provided that Kiev’s representatives signed up to a peace plan at the Minsk meeting.

The announcements come a day after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin put forward a seven-point peace plan, which would end the fighting in Ukraine’s east while leaving rebels in control of territory.

So far there has been no sign of a halt in fighting in the east, where rebels have rapidly advanced in the past week, backed by what Kiev and NATO say is the support of thousands of Russian troops with artillery and tanks.

A Ukrainian army serviceman rests as he repairs military vehicles at his camp near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.   REUTERS-Gleb Garanich

Moscow denies its troops are there, in the face of what the West says is overwhelming evidence.

Reuters journalists heard explosions and saw columns of smoke on the eastern outskirts of Mariupol, a government-held port of 500,000 people that is the next big city in the path of the rebel advance. A Ukrainian military source said troops were bracing for a potential attack on the city.

Reuters reporters also heard government shells rain down overnight on a residential district Donetsk, capital of one of the rebels’ two self-proclaimed independent states.

Poroshenko won support from Western leaders at the NATO summit. The West has backed Kiev by imposing economic sanctions on Moscow, but has also made clear it will not fight to protect the country, where pro-Russian rebels rose up in two provinces after Moscow annexed the Crimea peninsula in March.

French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Barack Obama meet to discus Ukraine at the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales September 4, 2014.    REUTERS-Alain Jocard-Pool

The Ukrainian president was invited to meet U.S. President Barack Obama, Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Francois Hollande and other Western leaders at a summit of NATO in Wales hosted by Britain’s David Cameron.

“To the east, Russia has ripped up the rule book with its illegal, self-declared annexation of Crimea and its troops on Ukrainian soil threatening and undermining a sovereign nation state,” Obama and Cameron wrote in a joint newspaper editorial.

Hollande brought the biggest surprise on the eve of the summit: postponing the delivery of a helicopter carrier warship to Russia, a measure he had long resisted. Moscow accused him of caving in to U.S. political pressure.

“France’s reputation as a reliable partner that carries out its contractual obligations has been thrown into the furnace of American political ambitions,” Russian Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

A pro-Russian separatist checks documents of bus passengers at a checkpoint outside the village of Kreminets near the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, September 4, 2014. REUTERS-Maxim Shemetov

CONFLICTING SIGNALS

The past few days have seen conflicting signals from both Moscow and Kiev. Putin made a number of belligerent statements over the past week before unveiling his peace proposal on Wednesday and discussing it by telephone with Poroshenko.

The Ukrainian leader hinted at a possible ceasefire on his website on Wednesday, but that wording was later dropped. His prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, derided Putin’s peace proposal as a “deception” and said Putin’s real aim was to “destroy Ukraine and restore the Soviet Union”.

Ukraine has previously refused to discuss any political deal with the rebels, calling them international terrorists and proxies of Moscow. But with the hope evaporating in the past week of a swift victory over the rebels, Poroshenko may have been convinced that it is now time to hear the Kremlin’s offer.

A pro-Russian separatist inspects documents at a checkpoint outside the village of Kreminets near the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, September 4, 2014. REUTERS-Maxim Shemetov

This week the rebels dropped a demand for full independence and said they would accept some kind of special status in Ukraine. That lifts one of the main obstacles to peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of trying to undermine the nascent peace process.

“The surge in anti-Russian rhetoric that we have seen exactly when there is a very active effort to seek a political solution shows that the party of war in Kiev has active external support, in this case from the United States,” he said.

Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a checkpoint outside the village of Kreminets near the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine September 4, 2014. REUTERS-Maxim Shemetov

Putin’s peace offer would leave rebels in control of territory that accounts for a tenth of Ukraine’s population and an even larger chunk of its industry.

It would also require Ukraine to remain unaligned. Kiev said last week it would try to join NATO, although full membership in the Western military alliance is still an unlikely prospect, since several members oppose it.

On the ground, there has so far been no sign yet of any ceasefire. Government forces shelled the southern outskirts of the rebel bastion of Donetsk overnight.

Water supplies in the city, which had a pre-war population of nearly 1 million people, stopped working overnight. Local authorities said an electric plant used for pumping had been damaged and they would try to supply water in tankers.

French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meet to discus Ukraine at the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales September 4, 2014.  REUTERS-Alain Jocard-Pool

BOMB SHELTER

Houses in Donetsk’s leafy Petrovka district were pockmarked with shrapnel. Residents had sought refuge in a bomb shelter.

“I don’t think they can reach any agreements now. Each side comes up with conditions unacceptable for the other. And so we get shelled,” said Lena, a resident who declined to give her surname.

Government troops had been on the offensive since Poroshenko was elected in June, squeezing the rebels into two provincial capitals, Donetsk and Luhansk.

But last week the rebels turned the tide with a dramatic advance that scattered government troops on a new front along the coast of the Sea of Azov that separates the rebellious provinces from Crimea, which Russia seized and annexed in March.

Ukrainian paratroopers ride in armoured vehicles near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.   REUTERS-Gleb Garanich

The front line has drawn closer to Mariupol, where government forces and local residents have been digging trenches to hold off an assault. The second biggest city in rebellious Donetsk province, Mariupol has been in government hands since June when separatists were driven out with the help of patrols of local metalworkers.

A NATO officer said there was no sign that Russia had drawn down its forces in Ukraine after Putin’s peace offer. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said NATO believed there were several thousand Russian troops in Ukraine, with hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, which he said represented “no significant change”.

Members of military special forces sit on an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014. REUTERS-Gleb Garanich

NATO leaders are expected to take new steps at their summit to defend alliance members near Ukraine, including setting up a rapid reaction force. But the alliance has made clear it will not fight to defend non-member Ukraine itself. Western countries are relying instead on economic sanctions to pressurize Moscow.

The European Union is considering new sanctions this week which could tighten financial restrictions on Russian companies. Russia has responded to sanctions by banning imports of most Western food.

Russia, Ukraine and EU Set for Three-Way Gas Talks

Vladimir Putin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin set to meet counterparts from Ukraine and EU

Energy ministers from Ukraine and Russia will meet with the European Union’s energy commissioner early next month, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has said.

“Agreement was reached that the next round of consultations on energy issues with the participation of European Commissioner Oettinger, Russian and Ukrainian ministers of fuel and energy will take place on September 6,” Poroshenko said, after holding direct talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Belarus.

Ukraine is facing the prospect of a shortfall in natural gas this winter after its Russian supplier cut off deliveries to Kiev over a price dispute that coincided with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, as European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (C) stand nearby, in Minsk August 26, 2014.  REUTERS-Sergei Bondarenko-Kazakh Presidential Office-Pool

Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom halted deliveries to Ukraine after Kiev refused to pay an inflated price for has.

While Kiev has some gas reserves in storage, it may have trouble fulfilling Ukrainian consumer demands this winter without increased deliveries.

“There could be shortages depending on temperatures and on consumption. But we have certain volumes available now and the opportunity of reverse gas shipments from Europe. And the gas coming from European countries could be enough under certain circumstances,” Ukraine’s Energy Minister said on Monday.

Ukraine is a vital transport link for Russia’s gas deliveries to the European Union, which receives around a third of its gas from Russia. Half of this gas is delivered via the Ukrainian pipeline network.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (front), Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a meeting with high-ranked officials representing Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the European Union in Minsk, August 26, 2014. REUTERS-Mykola Lazarenko-Ukrainian Presidential Press Service-Handout

While the pipes are designed to flow from Russia to Ukraine, Kiev has already experimented with reversing gas flows from Slovenia.

Poroshenko and Putin held talks in the Belarusian capital on Tuesday, after which the Ukrainian President announced an attempt to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine

(L-R) Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger, and European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht pose for a family photo during their meeting in Minsk, August 26, 2014.  REUTERS-Grigory Dukor

“A roadmap will be prepared in order to achieve, as soon as possible, a ceasefire regime which absolutely must be bilateral in character,” Poroshenko said.

Pro-Russian separatists have seized cities in eastern Ukraine and carried out a months-long insurgency against Ukraine’s central government security forces in the east of the country.

(L-R) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko react while posing for a family photo during their meeting in Minsk, August 26, 2014.   REUTERS-Grigory Dukor

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