KIEV/MOSCOW, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Government forces will not declare any more unilateral ceasefire in Ukraine's eastern regions, Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said Tuesday.
"Any negotiations now are possible only when the rebels lay down arms once and for all," RIA Novosti news agency quoted Heletey as saying. "The Ukrainian president has made this clear."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that military means alone cannot provide a solution to the Ukraine crisis, and that a renewed and lasting ceasefire upheld by all parties is fundamental.
Earlier this week, Mikhail Koval, deputy head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, said the regional capitals of Donetsk and Lugansk would be surrounded and blocked by the government's anti-terror units to coerce rebels into surrender.
Ukrainian government forces have squeezed insurgents out of several key cities in Donetsk and Lugansk regions in recent days.
On Monday, three bridges were destroyed by rebels on roads and railways leading into the city of Donetsk ahead of an expected offensive from Ukraine's government forces.
No breakthrough was made after a Sunday meeting of representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
U.S. President Barack Obama and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, on Monday called for a ceasefire between conflicting parties in eastern Ukraine with Russia's full support.
In Moscow, Valentina Matviyenko, chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament, said war hawks who defy national dialogue as a way to end the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine are prevailing in the leadership in Kiev.
"It is possible to conclude that the war hawks are now prevailing in Ukraine," Matviyenko said.
She reiterated that Russia and some European countries have been trying to persuade Kiev to start negotiations and dialogue to unite the Ukrainian society and stop the bloodshed in the eastern regions.
"Unfortunately, authorities in Kiev opted to show they are ready to solve the political crisis at all costs, even by punitive operation and killing of civilians," she was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.
Matviyenko blamed Kiev for its unwillingness to stop military operations and start a dialogue with rebels. If Kiev had agreed on the country's federalization in the early stages of the political crisis, it would avert the humanitarian disaster at present, she said.
UNITED NATIONS, July 7 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon reiterated that military means alone can't provide solution to the Ukrainian crisis and that a renewed and lasting ceasefire upheld by all parties is fundamental, his spokesman said on Monday.
"The secretary-general is aware of reports that armed militias have regrouped in Donetsk and Lugansk and that the Ukrainian forces are engaging in intensified military activity," Ban's spokesman said in response to a press question. Full story
BERLIN, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of Germany, French and Ukraine held a telephone conversation on Friday to discuss developments in Ukraine, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed that a bilateral ceasefire and a common approach by Ukraine and Russia to secure their border are preconditions to stabilize the situation in Ukraine. Full story
BERLIN, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of Germany, French and Ukraine held a telephone conversation on Friday to discuss developments in Ukraine, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.Full story
KIEV, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine's parliament, or the Supreme Rada, approved in the first reading a bill Friday on reform of the Ukrainian gas transport and management system as well as emergency measures in the country's fuel and energy sectors.Full story