23rd Mar 2018

Tensions in Ukraine flare as EU calls for groups to lay down weapons

  • Ukraine commandos raided pro-Russian checkpoints (Photo: Ratcliff, Trey)

Ukrainian forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels on Thursday (24 April) prompting Russia to launch army drills near the border and raising fears the crisis is escalating.

EU foreign affairs spokesman Michael Mann told reporters in Brussels that all parties to the joint Geneva statement must put pressure on the groups to help diffuse the recent rise in tensions.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“All parties to the joint Geneva Statement on Ukraine of 17 April must ensure that its terms are fully implemented,” he said.

The agreement calls upon all illegal armed groups to disarm, vacate illegally seized buildings and occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns.

His US counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington accused Russia of "distraction, deception and destabilisation" in eastern Ukraine.

Kerry said Russia is not abiding by the Geneva statement.

“Not a single Russian official, not one, has publicly gone on television in Ukraine and called on the separatists to support the Geneva agreement,” he said.

Kerry said Russia needs to implement its side of the agreement or risk facing additional sanctions.

“If Russia continues in this direction, it will not just be a grave mistake, it will be an expensive mistake,” he said.

But key government buildings in dozens of eastern Ukrainian towns remain occupied by pro-Russian separatists.

At least two separatists were killed following raids by Ukraine forces earlier in the week on pro-Russian checkpoints around Sloviansk.

"If the regime in Kiev has begun using the army against the population inside the country, then this is undoubtedly a very serious crime," President Putin told Russian media.

The raids provoked new Russian military exercises along the border on Thursday. Russia has around 40,000 troops amassed next to Ukraine.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said Russia must pull back its forces and “stop the constant threats and blackmail”.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, for her part, said the latest news from Eastern Ukraine on reported kidnappings, torture and killings is “a cause for grave concern”.

Kiev last week accused Moscow of the murder of a regional Ukrainian politician.

Meanwhile, unnamed sources told Reuters the US is set to discuss imposing additional sanctions in a conference call on Friday with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Mann, for his part, noted discussions to impose any additional sanctions is “an on-going process which requires a lot of work and co-operation with our member states”.

EU foreign ministers are set to meet to discuss Ukraine on 12 May.

EU summit takes hard look at Russia

EU leaders will discuss Russian security threats in the wake of the UK attack, but will not adopt new sanctions at Thursday's summit.


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

News in Brief

  1. EU will be exempted from tariffs, says US minister
  2. Malmstroem: EU 'hopes' for US tariffs exemption
  3. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  4. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  5. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  6. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  7. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  8. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions