Planned peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels were postponed yesterday, but a ceasefire appeared to be largely holding along the front line in the ex-Soviet country’s war-shattered east.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said talks with the insurgents involving Russian and European envoys in the Belarussian capital Minsk had been delayed and would probably not be held until Friday.
“Today, nothing will happen. Consultations are continuing,” a ministry spokesman told reporters.
However, a ceasefire along the bloodied frontline in eastern Ukraine was apparently being respected early yesterday on what the Ukrainian government has dubbed “a day of silence.”
Reporters said fighting in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk had stopped abruptly at dawn after a night of artillery exchanges, with only a single shell heard since then.
“On the initiative of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a ceasefire regime has been implemented on all positions of [government] forces,” said a statement on the Ukrainian military’s Facebook account yesterday.
One rebel fighter stationed near the contested airport in Donetsk said the situation was “calm for the moment.”
However, his colleagues remained skeptical about the long-term prospects.
“I don’t believe in the ceasefire,” one told reporters. “Up to now, ceasefires have only meant a pause before even fiercer fighting resumes.”
Rebel commanders had earlier said they would not be ready to hold peace talks until later in the week.
“We will take part in the negotiations,” Donetsk separatist co-leader Denis Pushilin told reporters by telephone. “But for them to be more successful, they must take place on Friday.”
The pro-Western Ukrainian leadership needs calm in the east so it can focus on long-delayed economic reforms to dig the country out of effective bankruptcy and open the way for more global aid.
An IMF team was due to arrive in Kiev yesterday to assess Ukraine’s implementation of deeply unpopular austerity measures it has demanded in return for US$17 billion in emergency aid.
Yesterday’s “day of silence” across the warzone is due to be followed by a withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line — should the separatists also put down their guns.
While observers waited to see if a ceasefire emerged, two civilians were reported dead and 10 injured from overnight shelling in Ukrainian areas yesterday.
Ukrainian Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak said that Kiev’s military forces intended to halt fire yesterday even if the Minsk gathering was delayed for a few days.
“The Ukrainian armed forces are ready for silence,” he said during a joint press appearance with visiting Canadian Minister of National Defense Rob Nicholson on Monday.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around