The Ukrainian government has announced its forces have retaken the southern city of Mariupol from pro-Russian separatist gunmen, and in heavy fighting has also retaken control of a long stretch of the border with Russia.
The port of Mariupol, Ukraine’s biggest on the Sea of Azov, is a key objective as it opens the way to a land link between Ukraine’s east and Crimea, now annexed by Russia but cut off from the rest of the country.
There have been suggestions the regional administration of Donetsk, in rebel hands, may be transferred to Mariupol soon, an indication Kyiv may fear a long struggle to retake the Donbas capital, yet a self-styled leader of the Donetsk uprising, Denis Pushilin, now says he is open to the idea of talks, as long as mediators are present.
Kyiv continues to press home what it calls its “anti-terrorist” campaign
and appears determined to make a clean break with the past.
New riot police to replace the hated Berkut are undergoing training in Kyiv in methods that most western experts in crowd control might recognise, with not a sniper’s rifle or water cannon in sight.