National News

Ukraine says rebels must disarm before talks

Ukrainian tanks take their position at the base in Devhenke village, Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine, Monday, July 7, 2014. There was no word Monday from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who had promised to start negotiations on a new cease-fire last week. A contact group for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe met in Kiev on Sunday to discuss the situation in Donetsk, but no representatives from the rebels attended and no breakthroughs were announced. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) -
Ukrainian tanks take their position at the base in Devhenke village, Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine, Monday, July 7, 2014. There was no word Monday from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who had promised to start negotiations on a new cease-fire last week. A contact group for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe met in Kiev on Sunday to discuss the situation in Donetsk, but no representatives from the rebels attended and no breakthroughs were announced. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
— image credit:

By Peter Leonard, The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine - The Ukrainian government will restart cease-fire negotiations with pro-Russian insurgents in the country's east only once the rebels lay down their weapons, the defence minister said Tuesday

Valery Heletey's statement, posted on the Defence Ministry website, comes amid growing confidence among government forces after they drove the insurgent militia from their stronghold of Slovyansk.

Last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised cease-fire talks no later than that Saturday, but a series of military successes by the Ukrainian army may have changed minds in Kyiv. Instead, on Saturday, Ukrainian troops routed the rebels in Slovyansk, forcing hundreds of militants to regroup in the regional capital, Donetsk — a rare and significant victory for Ukraine, which has often appeared helpless in the face of the spreading insurgency.

On Tuesday, the mayor of Donetsk issued a statement after a meeting with Poroshenko, saying the president suggested talks could take place in Svyatogorsk, a town in the north of the region.

The insurgents would be unlikely to agree to Svyatogorsk, which is controlled by Kyiv. "I don't think we will go there. It's not safe," rebel leader Alexander Borodai told Interfax news agency. He said locations acceptable to the rebels include Donetsk, Russia or Belarus.

A 10-day cease-fire that ended in late June was punctuated by frequent clashes and provided no progress in reaching a negotiated settlement. More than 400 people have died and thousands have fled their homes after a nearly three-month-long standoff between the rebels and the new authorities in Kyiv, who came to power after the ex-president's ouster in February.

Rebels in Ukraine and nationalists in Russia have called for the Kremlin to protect the insurgents, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far made no comment on the rebels' defeat in Slovyansk, while state media and other officials have downplayed the loss. Putin may be wary of more sanctions being imposed by the West, which slapped visa bans and financial sanctions on Russia's top officials for their role in annexing the Black Sea region of Crimea in March.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

First snow fall of the year
 
Charges laid in fatal Surrey stabbing
 
Election 21014: Harrison candidates split on parking problem, again
Flu season may be early this year
 
Nurse defies Ebola quarantine in US
 
Exchange enhances friendships
Coaching vet pens baseball tome
 
Nanaimo council candidate: Jack Arnold
 
Nanaimo mayoral candidate: John Ruttan

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.