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Clashes as Ukraine truce ends

- Govt forces ordered to renew effort against rebels

Moscow, July 1: Heavy fighting resumed in eastern Ukraine early today, including artillery shelling around the rebel-controlled city of Slovyansk, shortly after President Petro O. Poroshenko declared an end to a 10-day cease-fire and ordered government forces to renew their effort to squash the pro-Russian separatist insurrection in the east.

Poroshenko’s announcement, in a nationally televised statement after midnight, came on the heels of two consecutive days of conference calls with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany that failed to yield concrete steps towards a peace agreement.

On Friday, European leaders issued an ultimatum to Russia, demanding it do more to end the violence caused by the rebels in eastern Ukraine. But attacks on government forces continued.

Dmytro Tymchuk, a military analyst close to the Ukrainian government, praised Poroshenko’s decision, saying that the one-sided adherence to the ceasefire by the Ukrainian military had only strengthened the rebel forces, allowing them to rearm and regroup.

“Every day the truce, whatever its political significance, provided tangible reinforcement to the terrorists from a military point of new,” Tymchuk wrote on Facebook, adding, “A longer truce period would give terrorists a chance to drastically increase their combat readiness.”

Tymchuk said that government forces had begun pounding rebels shortly after receiving Poroshenko’s new orders. “Air and artillery strikes are being carried out against all sites where there are terrorist strongholds and groups of terrorists are located,” he wrote.

In Kiev, the parliament speaker, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, confirmed that Ukrainian forces were once again on the offensive against insurgents. “The active phase of the counterterrorism operation resumed in the morning,” he said, opening the day’s session. “Our armed forces are striking the bases and strongholds of the terrorists.”

Turchynov also said that parliament was prepared to consider a request by Poroshenko to impose a state of emergency in the east, but that such a move towards martial law could only be made by the President.

 
 
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