Ukraine, Russia Hold Talks Amid Fears of Direct Clashes
Germany warned today that direct military clashes between Russia and Ukraine must be avoided at all costs as Kiev and Moscow's top diplomats joined crisis talks with only faint hope of a breakthrough.
The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France gathered in Berlin after Moscow again denied claims it had sent weapons across the border to prop up the flagging separatist rebellion.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said ahead of the talks that all sides must be "very careful... about sliding ever deeper into a direct confrontation between Ukrainian and Russian armed forces".
"This must be avoided at all cost," said Steinmeier before meeting Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Russia's Sergei Lavrov and Laurent Fabius of France.
He cautioned that "there are no guarantees that today's talks will lead to the success we desire" but stressed that "it would be irresponsible ... Not to take advantage of this willingness to talk".
The question would be "whether there is a path toward a ceasefire that is realistic and resilient and that offers us hope of ending the violence," he said.
On the ground in east Ukraine, Kiev's military said it hoisted the national flag over a district police station in a northeast suburb of the second-largest rebel bastion of Lugansk after a fierce battle with pro-Russian separatists yesterday.
A push into the city limits of the stricken 420,000-strong industrial hub would be a major breakthrough for government forces after four months of fighting that has claimed more than 2,100 lives and brought the region to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Ukraine also ramped up the stakes before the talks in Germany by alleging another military convoy that included three Grad rocket systems crossed over from Russia.
The fresh claims come as a furore still swirls over Kiev's earlier boasts that it destroyed part of a Russian armoured convoy which breached the frontier Thursday.
Ukraine's Klimkin said today's talks with his Russian counterpart would "not be easy" as Germany also demanded that Moscow clarify rebel claims that they had received hundreds of fighters trained in Russia to shore up their insurgency.
A Kremlin spokesman denied Moscow had sent "equipment" across the border, its latest dismissal of persistent allegations by the West that it is arming the rebels.
Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine continued to haggle over a mammoth Russian aid convoy parked near the border as officials said inspections of the roughly 300 lorries would not start today.
- Kim Jong-Nam Was Killed By Lethal VX Nerve Agent
- 5 Crore Indians Suffer From Depression
- Kerala To Launch First Sex Offenders Registry
- Gujarat To Ban Hookah Bars
- Wonderful, Precise And Very Cool: How Do Our Money Up-Chucking Machines Work?
- "I'm Only Passing Through" 10 Leonard Cohen Songs That You Must Listen To
- Blackout For NDTV Stirs The Media
- Daily Curator: The Dominion Of Misunderstood Men Over Headlines
- Daily Curator: Of Holes Being Poked Into The Bhopal Encounter And The Origins Of Chyawanprash
- Watch: Viral Video Has Man Lighting Up A Line Of Crackers Attached To His Mouth
- Khalsa College Postpones Drama Event Till ABVP Drama Pacifies
- India Likely to Be Less Affected by Global Economic Shocks: IMF
- Ticket Collector Bites Off Senior Officer's Nose In A Fit Of Rage
- 60-Year-Old Poet Thrashed For Stopping DTC Bus Conductor From Urinating On Road
- 130 Bodies Of Fighters Beheaded By Rival Jihadists Found in Syria Mass Graves
- BMC Mayor Will Be From Our Party, BJP Used Deceitful Means to Destabilise Our Rule: Sena
- MOST VIEWED
- MOST COMMENTED
- Boys In MP Forced To Dip Hands In Boiling Oil As 'Innocence Test', To Prove They Hadn't Stolen Mobile
- Hafiz Saeed Can Pose A Serious Threat To Nation, Says Pakistan's Defence Minister
- 5 Killed As Aircraft Smashes Into Melbourne Shopping Complex
- Nestle Sales Was Hit By Rs 100 Crore Post Demonetisation, Says Company Chairman