Ukraine rejects talks with rebels until they disarm

Ukraine on Tuesday brushed off strong European pressure and rejected talks with pro-Russian rebels about a truce halting a bloody insurgency convulsing the ex-Soviet nation until they laid down their arms.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 08, 2014, 15:53 PM IST

Kiev: Ukraine on Tuesday brushed off strong European pressure and rejected talks with pro-Russian rebels about a truce halting a bloody insurgency convulsing the ex-Soviet nation until they laid down their arms.

"Now, any negotiations are possible only after the rebels completely lay down their arms," Defence Minister Valeriy Geletey said in a statement.

Ukrainian forces have scored a string of military successes since the weekend that forced most of the militias to retreat to the Russian-speaking eastern industrial hubs of Donetsk and Lugansk.

President Petro Poroshenko has ordered his troops to blockade the insurgents inside the cities and cut them off from any further arms supplies.

But it was not immediately clear how the new pro-Western leader intended to force the militias to give up their three-month campaign to join Russian rule.

Germany and France have been spearheading a European push to sit the two sides down for negotiations that could agree the terms of a new truce.

Poroshenko cancelled a 10-day ceasefire on July 1 because of uninterrupted rebel attacks that claimed the lives of more than 20 Ukrainian troops.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday that "even if the situation in eastern Ukraine has shifted in favour of the Ukrainian security forces, there will be no purely military resolution of the conflict".

But a round of indirect talks about a ceasefire brokered by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kiev on Sunday produced no tangible result.