26th Oct 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion