Fighting in Ukraine Continues…
GENEVA – After months of violence, the fighting rages on in eastern Ukraine. in the Reuters video, Ukrainian forces are taking cover in a school… shielding themselves from incoming fire and sending bullets toward pro-Russian separatists.
As shots rang out east of Donetsk, the leaders of Russia and Ukraine met for talks in Minsk.
The leaders are agreeing on the need to “de-escalate” and free hostages. But the Belarussian president, who hosted the talks, says fundamental differences remain. Starting with a handshake, the talks were aimed at defusing a separatist war that has heightened tensions between Russia and NATO and has prompted the U.S. and the EU to slap sanctions on Russia.
President Vladimir Putin says Russia will respect a country’s sovereignty, but not at their own expense.
Speaking to European Union members President Putin said, “Russia has always respected the sovereign choice of any nation to organise its political life and make all sorts of unions, both military and economic, and we will continue to do so. However, we hope that this will not be detrimental to other participants in international communication, and not at our cost. As you may know, Ukraine is deeply integrated into the CIS economic space. Alongside Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, it is actually an inseparable part of the largest economic complex in the world, which took ages, rather than years or decades, to create – and this is no exaggeration”.
“Our countries’ companies have developed close ties in all the basic industries: in the fuel and energy sector, which includes nuclear power, in chemical production, in aviation and machine building, space, metallurgy and metals processing, in construction and agriculture. We have developed unique production chains and created technological alliances. Russian capital represents about 32 percent of the Ukrainian banking system”.
United Nations Helping Refugees
“The longer the conflict goes on, the more impact it has on ordinary people and the greater the number of people who are displaced,” said Valerie Amos, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, talking to reporters mid-way through her four-day visit to Ukraine to assess the aid effort.
Telling reporters in Sloviansk that the UN has been extremely concerned at the way the situation in Ukraine has deteriorated over the last few months, she said the Organization is seeking to give support to the Government in three specific areas.
“First, with the ongoing political discussions, which we hope will conclude and bring peace, security and stability to Ukraine,” said Ms. Amos.
While The United Nations was supporting the Government’s own efforts, the Organization recognized that there are parts of Ukraine’s eastern region where the conflict made it difficult to get to the people who need assistance.
“So, the second area in which we are seeking to give support with respect to humanitarian response efforts is scaling up operational capacity, additional supplies, and looking at ways in which we can get into those more difficult parts of Ukraine,” she said.
Thirdly, Ms Amos said there will be longer-term rehabilitation efforts which are required, given the destruction of essential infrastructure. So the UN is supporting the assessment of the damage.
“Imagine the money required to repair that infrastructure,” she continued, adding that the UN is working to ensure that there is a wide range of partners, donor countries, the World Bank and others, who could support with resources longer-term reconstruction efforts.
Meanwhile, Ms. Amos said that she was happy to see how different the situation in Sloviansk is today compared with the beginning of July. “We’ve been able to see…how, over a very short period of time, basic services have been restored. Substantial numbers of people are already returning to the city.”
“It demonstrates what peace means and we hope that it will be repeated in the parts of the country where there is continued, ongoing fighting,” she concluded, thanking the local authorities in Sloviansk and to the representatives of the national Government she had met yesterday and Thursday, for their ongoing close cooperation with the United Nations.
FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS / UNITED NATIONS / RUSSIA