Ukraine flag
Ukraine flag

Heavy fighting broke out again at the airport of the eastern Ukrainian separatist stronghold of Donetsk on Friday, as it remained unclear whether a fresh round of peace talks would take place in Belarus.

Ukraine flag
Ukraine flag

The Ukrainian military said that separatist fighters launched a fresh attack in the morning. “The situation is pretty difficult, but controllable,” Roman Turovets, a military spokesman, told the Ukrainskaya Pravda news site.

The rebels said Thursday that they had taken much of the airport’s terminal, and that the government troops that have been stubbornly defending it in recent months are holding no more than two of the rubbled building’s floors.

Ukraine’s Security Council insisted that the airport was under government control.

Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in Kiev that six soldiers were killed and 18 injured in fighting during the past 24 hours.

President Petro Poroshenko promised to send reinforcements and praised the airport’s defenders for “achieving the impossible.”

Meanwhile, separatist envoys arrived in Minsk for talks with the so-called Ukraine contact group – made up of representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

However, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who represents Kiev at the talks, said Thursday that he will only participate if the separatists’ top leaders – Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky – show up.

Denis Pushilin, the envoy for the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said that Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky would attend once “concrete results have been worked out,” the Interfax news agency reported.


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