Ukraine’s ceasefire continues to be smashed to smithereens in the city of Donetsk where pro-Russian rebels are battling to recapture the airport from government forces.
Kyiv says there has been no let-up in the separatists’ efforts and, not for the first time, it is pointing an accusing finger at Russia.
“Terrorists are moving out everything they can find: coal, metal, vehicles and taking it to the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a news conference.
“The OSCE mission has a chance to monitor this. Terrorists are still breaking the ceasefire. The main target for the terrorists is the airport. In the past 24 hours, it has been attacked five times.”
In Belarus, at a meeting of a bloc of ex-Soviet republics, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted the separatists be included in the search for a solution.
“To begin a dialogue, which is already starting to take shape between representatives of Kyiv and the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics – this is the first step,” Lavrov said.
“The next should be a wide-ranging political dialogue, a constitutional reform including all regions and all of Ukraine’s political forces.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin could hold talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko next week on the sidelines of a summit of Asian and European leaders in Milan, the Kremlin said on Thursday.
In the meantime, the fighting rages on. The conflict in eastern Ukraine is still claiming about 10 lives a day among government troops, pro-Russian separatists and civilians despite the ceasefire agreed in early September, the United Nations says.
Moscow vehemently denies accusations that it has backed the separatists with weapons and soldiers. But the West remains to be convinced with anti-Russian sanctions remaining firmly in place.