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01:01, 21 August 2014 Thursday

Ukrainian troops attack pro-Russia rebels

Ukrainian troops attack pro-Russia rebels

Soldier killed and four wounded as Ukrainian president prepares to hold meetings with Angela Merkel and then Vladimir Putin

Government troops carried out attacks on Tuesday in the two largest cities held by pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine, while Kiev also pursued diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict that has killed more than 2,000 and displaced another 300,000. The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, prepared to host German chancellor Angela Merkel at the weekend before a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The next two weeks would be crucial for finding the way to move from war to peace, said Valery Chaly, the deputy head of Poroshenko's administration. He said in a televised briefing that Kiev saw a clear diplomatic roadmap ahead and expressed hope that a new approach could be found to end the war.

Poroshenko's efforts to quell the insurgency have been focused on encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-controlled city and a regional capital. Fighting began in the east in mid-April after Russia annexed Crimea, while Kiev's forces have recaptured significant amounts of territory from the separatists.

Moscow has denied allegations by Kiev and the west that it has fomented the rebellion in the Russian-speaking parts of eastern Ukraine. It said the Ukrainian government had discriminated against residents of the region who wanted closer ties with Russia.

In fighting on Tuesday, one soldier was killed and four were wounded when a pro-Kiev battalion of volunteers came under mortar fire before entering the town of Ilovaysk, 11 miles east of Donetsk, Ukrainian officials said.

Related Topics » russia | Ukrainian |