KIEV, Ukraine — Germany’s foreign minister tried to broker a quick launch of talks between Ukraine’s central government and pro-Russia separatists, yet Ukraine was skeptical yesterday, and fighting claimed six more lives in the restive east.
Six Ukrainian servicemen were ambushed and killed and eight others wounded yesterday afternoon outside the town of Kramatorsk, the defense ministry said. They were attacked by at least 30 insurgents using grenade launchers and automatic weapons, it said in a statement.
Kramatorsk is in the Donetsk region, one of two in eastern Ukraine that declared independence on Monday.
Speaking at Kiev’s main airport, German envoy Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he came to support efforts to arrange a dialogue between Ukraine’s central government in Kiev and its pro-Russia opponents in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that form the nation’s eastern industrial heartland. Pro-Russia insurgents in those regions have seized government buildings and clashed with government forces for the past month.
Steinmeier’s trip is part of the road map for settling Ukraine’s crisis laid out by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a trans-Atlantic security group.
The OSCE plan calls on all sides to refrain from violence and urges amnesty for those involved in the unrest as well as talks on decentralization and the status of the Russian language. It envisages a quick launch of high-level round tables across the country bringing together national lawmakers and representatives of the central government and the regions.
But Ukrainian officials sounded skeptical yesterday about the OSCE plan.
Speaking in Brussels, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk thanked the Vienna-based OSCE but said Ukraine has drawn up its own “road map” for ending the crisis and noted the people of his country should settle the issue themselves.
Russia, meanwhile, called yesterday for a swift implementation of the OSCE plan, saying its demand to end violence means that Kiev should stop its military operation to recapture buildings in the east, lift its blockade of cities and towns, pull its forces from eastern regions and release all insurgents.