No breakthrough was expected and none came but preliminary peace talks on Ukraine will continue in Belarus on Friday.
Separatist rebel leaders, Ukraine’s informal representative ex-President Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador to Kyiv and a senior OSCE official took part as, away from Minsk, a war of words raged over who is responsible for the escalating crisis.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko puts the blame firmly at Russia’s door.
“Direct and open aggression has been launched against Ukraine from a neighbouring state,” he said at the opening day of a Kyiv military academy.
“That has changed the situation in the conflict zone in a radical way and raises new and more difficult questions for our security bodies.”
Poroshenko spoke as his Defence Minister Valery Heletey said on his Facebook page that Ukraine was fighting a “great war” with Russia which could leave tens of thousands of people dead.
Having urged negotiations on the ‘statehood’ of southern and eastern Ukraine, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin continued to blame Kyiv for the crisis – for refusing to enter into direct and official political talks with the separatists.