In­sur­gents free last group of mon­i­tors

Taranaki Daily News - - World -

Donetsk – Pro-Rus­sian in­sur­gents yes­ter­day re­leased a sec­ond team of ob­servers from the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe who had been held cap­tive since the end of May, the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

OSCE spokesman Michael Bo­ci­urkiw said the four ob­servers were re­leased and met by an OSCE of­fi­cial in the east­ern city of Donetsk.

‘‘They’re in good health, they’re in good spir­its,’’ he said.

OSCE lost con­tact with four mon­i­tors from its Donetsk team and four mon­i­tors from its Luhansk team in late May.

The mem­bers of the Donetsk team were freed ear­lier this week.

At a Euro­pean Union sum­mit on Satur­day lead­ers de­cided not to im­me­di­ately im­pose new sanc­tions on Rus­sia for desta­bil­is­ing east­ern Ukraine, but gave the Rus­sian govern­ment and pro-Rus­sian in­sur­gents un­til Mon­day to take steps to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

The EU lead­ers said Rus­sia and the rebels should work to re­lease all cap­tives, re­treat from bor­der check­points, agree on a way to ver­ify the cease-fire and launch ‘‘sub­stan­tial ne­go­ti­a­tions’’ on Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko’s peace plan.

Ukraine on Satur­day signed a free-trade pact with the EU, the very deal that a for­mer Ukrainian pres­i­dent dumped un­der pres­sure from Moscow in Novem­ber, fu­elling huge protests that even­tu­ally drove him from power. Moscow re­sponded by an­nex­ing the mainly Rus­sian-speak­ing Crimean Penin­sula in March, and a pro-Rus­sian in­sur­gency in east­ern Ukraine erupted the month af­ter, leading to the de­vel­op­ments that have brought Rus­sia-West re­la­tions to their low­est point since the Cold War times.

The US and the EU have slapped travel bans and as­set freezes on mem­bers of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s in­ner cir­cle and threat­ened to im­pose more crip­pling sanc­tions against en­tire sec­tors of Rus­sia’s econ­omy if the Krem­lin fails to de-es­ca­late the cri­sis.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Rus­sia’s for­eign min­is­ter ac­cused the United States of en­cour­ag­ing Ukraine to chal­lenge Moscow and heav­ily weigh­ing in on the Euro­pean Union.

In tele­vised re­marks, Sergey Lavrov said that ‘‘our Amer­i­can col­leagues still pre­fer to push the Ukrainian lead­er­ship to­ward a con­fronta­tional path.’’

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