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Ukraine Crisis

Breaking news, updates, and analysis on the uprising and crisis in Ukraine.

  • A wrecked Kamaz truck is seen near the Donetsk airport on May 27, 2014. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

  • People stand near belongings on May 27, 2014 of separatists killed in a fight with pro-Ukrainian forces outside a morgue in Donetsk. (Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters)

  • The OSCE says it has lost contact with one of its monitoring teams in Ukraine's Donetsk region, Reuters reports.
  • Doctors at second morgue tell us after local morgues, all bodies are taken to Kalinin morgue. We were there earlier (between 33 and 45 dead)
  • Re previous tweet, these 33 bodies identified, put on a list as being DPR. Investigator says expects more to be added. This is only 1 morgue
  • UPDATE: Lead investigator at morgue scales back number of DPR soldiers killed in battle and brought to this #Donetsk morgue to 33.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Tuesday for an immediate halt to Ukraine's military operation against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.

    In his first reported comments on Ukraine since its presidential election on Sunday, the Kremlin quoted Putin as telling Italy's prime minister by telephone that dialogue between Kiev and representatives of the regions would help efforts to resolve the crisis.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that threats of additional Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis were laughable, Russian news agencies reported.

    Lavrov also told reporters that a visit to Russia by Petro Poroshenko, the winner of Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday, was not under consideration, Interfax reported.

  • Ukrainian forces fought with separatists in the city of Donetsk for a second day on Tuesday after inflicting heavy losses on the rebels and the government vowed to press on with a military offensive "until not a single terrorist" was left.

    Pro-Russian rebels said more than 50 of their fighters had been killed. The mayor of Donetsk, an industrial hub in eastern Ukraine, said the death toll in the clashes which erupted on Monday stood at 40, including two civilians.

    A Reuters correspondent counted 20 bodies in combat fatigues in one room of a hospital morgue, some of them missing limbs.

    Ukraine used air strikes and a paratroop assault on Monday to clear rebels from Donetsk's international airport and had pushed the separatists out of the complex by the end of the day.

    But shooting continued through the night and on Tuesday the road to the airport bore signs of fighting overnight and heavy machinegun fire could be heard in the distance in mid-morning.

    "The airport is completely under control," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told journalists in the capital Kiev. "The adversary suffered heavy losses. We have no losses," he added.

    "We'll continue the anti-terrorist operation until not a single terrorist remains on the territory of Ukraine," First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema said on the margins of a government meeting.

    "We have 29 or 30 dead on our side but that is not the final count yet," said Dima Gau, a rebel representative.

    Donetsk mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko said 40 people had been killed in the past day, 38 of the bodies being of those involved in fighting around the airport.

    The prime minister of the rebels' self-styled Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), Alexander Borodai, was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as telling a news conference in the city: "We have lost more than 50 volunteers."


    Ukraine launched the fresh offensive against the rebels, who have occupied strategic points in Donetsk and other towns in the east, after Ukraine's newly elected president rejected any talks with "terrorists".

    Petro Poroshenko, a 48-year-old billionaire oligarch, won overwhelming support in Sunday's election that many hope will draw a line under six months of upheaval. He said a robust military campaign in the east should be able to put down a separatist revolt in "a matter of hours".

    On the road to the airport, Reuters journalists saw blood-spattered and bullet-riddled hulks of trucks of the kind the separatist fighters have been using.

    Though the rebels backing the self-proclaimed republic had suffered serious losses, the heavy machine gunfire indicated that government forces were still facing resistance.

    It was too early to say if the apparent military successes of government forces could break the rebellion in Donetsk, the first of a rash of such revolts across eastern Ukraine after months of turmoil in the capital that led to the ousting of the Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich.

    In Donetsk on Tuesday a hockey stadium was set ablaze, though firefighters managed to bring it under control.

    A Kamaz truck of the type rebels use to ferry their fighters was wrecked on the airport road, covered in blood and completely riddled with bullet holes. Blood had spattered across the entire roadway and even reached a billboard seven metres above.

    Outside the city centre, another Kamaz was flipped over, its deck covered in blood.

    The mayor reinforced warnings for people to avoid the airport area and said nine schools and two hospitals had been closed, with patients evacuated elsewhere. He reassured people that food and other supplies were still reaching the city.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Moscow's call for an immediate end to violence in Ukraine on Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported.

    Lavrov said halting bloodshed in Ukraine's southeast was the most important task for the authorities in Kiev after the nation elected a president on Sunday, Itar-Tass reported.

  • According to the Kremlin, in a conversation with the Italian prime minister, Russian President Putin called for a halt to Kiev's military operation in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.

    The Russian president has also called for peaceful dialogue between Kiev and regional leaders to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, according to Reuters.
  • According to Interfax, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says the issue of a visit by Poroshenko, the next Ukrainian president, to Russia is not under consideration, Reuters reports.
  • Ukraine's leader-elect talks peace, but anti-rebel violence flares in the east

    A fresh round of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels broke out in the east of the country Monday, knocking hopes that an offer of talks from the new president-elect in Kiev and Moscow's encouraging response may bring about a timely end to the crisis.

    Fresh from a victory at the polls on Sunday, Ukraine's incoming head of state Petro Poroshenko said he was willing to open dialogue with Moscow, an overture that Russia welcomed. The exchange raised optimism that the protracted standoff, that has seen East-West relations plummet to levels unseen since the end of the Cold War, could be easing.

    But on the ground violence continued. On Monday, Ukraine's military launched airstrikes against pro-Russian groups who had earlier taken over an airport in the eastern capital of Donetsk in what appeared to be the most visible operation of pro-Kiev troops since they started a crackdown on insurgents last month.

    Vladislav Seleznyov, a spokesman for Kiev's so-called anti-terrorist operation, wrote on his Facebook account that the military gave an ultimatum to the armed men who had occupied the airport to lay down their arms. He said the gunmen didn't comply and the military launched an assault

    Denis Pushilin, a leader of the separatists, said they had sent their men to the airport after some of their supporters were detained.

    The fighting came as international observers hailed Sunday’s presidential vote as a "genuine election," saying it was held freely and fairly.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • The European Union welcomes the statement by the Russian Federation indicating it will respect the will of the Ukrainian people, Reuters reports.
  • A Ukrainian official says the military has launched an air strike on gunmen who have occupied the airport in the eastern capital of Donetsk.

    Vladislav Seleznyov, a spokesman for Kiev's anti-terrorist operation, wrote on his Facebook account that the military presented an ultimatum earlier this afternoon to unknown armed men who had occupied the airport to lay down the arms.

    He said the gunmen didn't comply and the military launched an air strike.

    Hundreds of pro-Russian militia have seized government buildings and fought Ukrainian troops for weeks as their leaders have declared independence.

    [The Associated Press]
  • A Ukrainian security official says its warplanes carried out an airstrike against rebels at the Donetsk International Airport, Reuters reports.
  • At #Donetsk airport sporadic bursts of gunfire continue as loud explosion echoes through streets. Black smoke rising, fighters buzz overhead

  • A military truck with armed pro-Russian militants drives through a police check-point towards the airport of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 26, 2014 (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

  • An observer mission official says Sunday's election hands Ukraine's new president 'legitimacy' to establish inclusive dialogue with all citizens of the east, Reuters reports.
  • German Chancellor Merkel says the first round win for Poroshenko in Ukraine's election, if confirmed by the final data, would be good news, Reuters reports.

    Merkel reportedly added that she hopes the European Union's Oettinger can help resolve the Russia-Ukraine gas price dispute this week.
  • Fighting going on at Donetsk airport, rumble of fighter jets audible in the centre.
  • Reuters journalists near Donetsk international airport in eastern Ukraine heard gunfire and explosions in the vicinity and saw smoke billowing from inside the perimeter as fighter jets flew high overhead on Monday.

    On the day after a presidential election, gunmen forced the closure of the airport to flights and took over the terminal, demanding the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the facility.

  • Moscow is ready for a direct dialogue with Ukraine's new president and doesn't need any Western mediation, Russia's foreign minister said Monday.

    Sergey Lavrov said Russia has a positive view on Ukraine's presidential vote and is ready to deal with billionaire candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko, who holds a commanding lead, according to early returns.

    Lavrov said that Russia noted Poroshenko's statements about the importance of normalizing ties with Moscow and the need to establish a dialogue with eastern regions, where pro-Russia insurgents have seized government buildings and fought government troops.

    He said that "we are ready for dialogue with Kiev representatives, with Petro Poroshenko." He added that "we don't need any mediators," in a reference to a possible role of the United States and the European Union in such talks.

    With votes from 60 percent of precincts counted early Monday, Poroshenko was leading the Ukrainian elections with about 54 percent in the field of 21 candidates. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was running a distant second with 13 percent.

    The 48-year-old billionaire, who claimed victory after exit polls showed him with a commanding lead in Sunday's vote, has said he supports strong ties with Europe but also wants to mend ties with Russia.

    Speaking after the polls closed, Poroshenko promised a dialogue with residents of eastern Ukraine and to guarantee their rights, including the right to speak Russian. He said he was ready to extend amnesty to those who haven't taken up weapons and that meetings with Russia should be held as soon as possible.

    "And I think that Russia is our neighbor. And without Russia it would be much less effective or almost impossible to speak about the security in the whole region or maybe about the global security," Poroshenko said.

    The election, which came three months after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was chased from office by crowds following months of street protests and allegations of corruption, was seen as a critical step toward resolving Ukraine's protracted crisis.

    Since his ouster, Russia has annexed the Crimea Peninsula in southern Ukraine, the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk have declared their independence from Kiev, and the interim Ukrainian government has launched an offensive in the east to quash an uprising that has left dozens dead.

    [The Associated Press]
  • Poroshenko has claimed the presidency after exit polls make him the outright winner in the first round, Reuters reports.
  • At the Poroshenko HQ waiting for a statement. Looks like he's taken a page from president Putin's book & is being fashionably late. #Ukraine
  • An exit poll shows billionaire candy-maker Petro Poroshenko winning Ukraine's presidential election outright in the first round.

    The poll for Sunday's election, conducted by three respected Ukrainian survey agencies, found the tycoon getting 55.9 percent of the vote.

    In a distant second was former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko with 12.9 percent. Full results are expected to be announced Monday in the election that could be a critical step toward resolving Ukraine's crisis.

    [The Associated Press]
  • Exit polls announced at Poroshenko 's hq have him winning with 57.31% #UkraineVotes

  • Two exit polls show Poroshenko has won in first round #Ukraine
  • Biggest surprise in Ukraine results: 8% for nationalist Lyashko, who tortured separatists on camera and has a militia that killed others.
  • According to KyivPost, exit polls predict Petro Poroshenko will win the Ukrainian presidency in the first round.

    From KyivPost:

    Ukrainians elected Petro Poroshenko to be their fifth president in a vote that was dubbed "the second independence referendum."

    Poroshenko won his presidency in the first round, according to two exit polls. The poll conducted by four TV channels showed that he received 57.8 percent of the vote. His main rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko received 12.8 of the vote.

    The turnout was expected to be around 60 percent nationwide and much higher in western parts of the country where 52 percent voted by 4 p.m., according to OPORA, the biggest election watchdog. There were fears that many will not be able to vote at all because of long queues.

    Andriy Magera, deputy head of the Central Election Commission, advised people to get inside polling stations by 8 p.m. to make sure that its officials are obliged to give people ballots.

    People waited in long queues for hours in crowded polling stations, especially in Kyiv and other cities where mayoral and local elections were held on the same day. Because of the whopper turnout, the  vote was dubbed “the second referendum for independence” by users of social networks in Ukraine as people proudly posted selfies of themselves voting in national clothes. 

    Read at KyivPost. The Associated Press has reported the same result.

    Reuters is the third news organization to report such results, saying a second Ukrainian exit poll makes Poroshenko the outright winner with 57.3 percent.
  • Ukrainians still lined up outside election station in Podol, Kiev, with less than 20 minutes to go until polls close.

  • Meanwhile over at #Tymoshenko ’s place the wall is dominated by a mural of dancing blonde ladies…#Ukraine

  • Interesting strategy. No pics of Poroshenko at his HQ, hard to find his name. Except on the candy. #cbc #ukraine

  • Offerings to the press from the "Chocolate King" at the Poroshenko press headquarters. #cbc #ukraine

  • Donetsk, in Ukraine's east,  has become a ghost town as the country's resident pour out to the polls, Reuters reports.

    From Reuters:

    It was polling day in Ukraine's eastern capital, Donetsk, but the long, leafy avenues were all but empty as residents, unable to vote in the presidential election, stayed at home in fear of violence from pro-Russian militants.

    Surrounded by these bare streets, demonstrators gathered on Lenin Square in central Donetsk, a sprawling city of a million at the heart of the Donbass coalfield. In a show of strength by those hostile to leaders in Kiev, shots were fired into the air while several large trucks carrying armed separatists drove by.

    Clashes between Ukrainian troops and militiamen and pro-Moscow rebels set on independence or union with Russia left 20 or more dead in the region in the days before the vote. It was called to replace Viktor Yanukovich, a local boy made good from Donetsk, who fled to Russia after protests in Kiev in February.

    "Today, we bid farewell to five of our comrades who died the day before yesterday," a separatist battalion commander told the crowd on Lenin Square of around 1,500, referring to an attack on his unit. "We didn't go to them but they came to us. We defended the frontiers of our city and region. They attacked us."

    The separatist fighters had been lying low in the Soviet-era regional administration building or in general keeping out of sight of the public in the past week. But on Sunday, there was a distinct change in atmosphere as the militants, most in black fatigues and sometimes in masks, were seen around town.

    Having declared an independent "people's republic" after a referendum two weeks ago, they argue that the Ukrainian presidential election has no validity in their region.

  • A prisoner serving a life sentence is brought for voting in the maximum security zone of the Sofiyevskaya prisoner on May 25, 2014. (Stringer/Reuters)

  • Big lines to vote in #Kiev : Locals in one sweltering school gym said they had waited 1.5 hours or more to vote

  • Pro-Russian militiamen stand outside the house of Rinat Akhmetov in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 25, 2014. Scores of armed pro-Russian separatists massed outside the walled home of Ukraine's richest man, Akhmetov, in Donetsk on Sunday as Ukrainians voted for a new president. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

  • Black clouds and heavy thunderstorm in #Kiev . Hopefully won't deter voters #UkraineVotes

  • This is one hail of a storm in Kiev right now... Was so nice earlier
  • No polling stations functioning in Luhansk & Donetsk in East #Ukraine . #elections
  • It is raining & hailing something fierce in #Kiev right now, which could put a damper on the heretofore active voting for president
  • An Italian photojournalist and his Russian interpreter have been killed in eastern Ukraine while covering fighting between government forces and pro-Russia insurgents, officials said Sunday.

    The Italian Foreign Ministry said Andrea Rocchelli, 30, was killed Saturday in the area of Slovyansk, the flashpoint of some of the most intense battles in recent weeks.

    Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini expressed condolences to Rocchelli's relatives and the family of interpreter Andrey Mironov.

    The bodies of the Rocchelli and Mironov were taken to a hospital for official identification and Rocchelli's relatives were planning to travel to Ukraine on Sunday, the ministry said.

    William Roguelon, a French photographer who was traveling with Rocchelli and Mironov, said in remarks broadcast by Russian television that they were hit by mortar fire as they were taking shelter in a roadside ditch. Roguelon was wounded in the shelling.

    Insurgents in Slovyansk, who have engaged in daily fighting with government forces seeking to flush them out of the city, said that the journalists came under shelling from Ukrainian troops late Saturday, but that claim could not be independently confirmed.

    In Kiev, Ukraine's Interior Ministry declined to provide details about what happened to Rocchelli and Mironov.

    Mironov, 60, was also a human rights activist who served time in prison as a dissident when Russia was part of the Soviet Union. He was well- known and had friendly ties with many Moscow-based Western journalists.

    [The Associated Press]
  • A rare sight in Donetsk Region: ballot boxes being filled up

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