National News

Ukraine reports military success in the east

By Nataliya Vasilyeva, The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine - The Ukrainian army destroyed two military bases of pro-Russian insurgents in overnight operations, the country's acting president said Thursday, as the government returned to the offensive a day after the start of European-brokered talks which have yet to draw in the warring sides.

Ukrainian forces destroyed an insurgent base outside the town of Kramatorsk, 150 kilometres (95 miles) west of the Russian border, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told the parliament on Thursday.

In another operation, Turchynov said troops destroyed an insurgent base in the nearby city of Slovyansk.

Ukraine's defence ministry said there were no casualties while the army took three insurgents captive. One of them had an anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Ukrainian authorities insisted that no "civilian" got caught in the fight.

Insurgents have seized government buildings across eastern Ukraine, fought the Ukrainian military and declared independence as the nation's crisis spilled over from a political meltdown into a military confrontation.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a trans-Atlantic security group, put forward a "road map" calling for national dialogue as a first step toward resolving the escalating tensions. The first round of talks in Kyiv produced no visible result as the government has confirmed its refusal to sit down with representatives of the insurgents.

In the east of Ukraine, insurgents said they hadn't been invited to the Kyiv round table and said that talks should be held in Donetsk. One of the leaders of the insurgency, Denis Pushilin, said it should focus on prisoners exchange and the pullout of the government forces, whom he called "occupation troops."

The next session of the talks is expected on Saturday, but the government hasn't made any specific commitments.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich what he called a "stubborn reluctance of the authorities in Kyiv to launch a real process of national reconciliation."

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Yuras Karmanau in Donetsk, Ukraine and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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