Ukraine seeks Euro­pean help as shelling blazes in east

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY ROLAND LLOYD PARRY AND DMYTRO GOR­SHKOV

Ukraine pressed Euro­pean lead­ers Mon­day to send peace­keep­ers to sta­bi­lize the wartorn east, as mon­i­tors re­ported a surge in shelling near a strate­gic gov­ern­ment-held city.

Top Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials landed in Kiev for a key sum­mit with the for­mer Soviet state as it faces off against sep­a­ratists in the east, whom its West­ern al­lies ac­cuse Rus­sia of back­ing.

The EU lead­ers pres­sured Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment to speed up anti- cor­rup­tion re­forms to clean up Ukrainian pol­i­tics and busi­ness in re­turn for closer ties with the bloc.

“You have a pow­er­ful en­emy, but you also have a lot of friends. You can count on their help, but it will not be enough un­less you your­self change Ukraine,” said EU Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk.

Ukraine’s pro-West­ern Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko says the coun­try first needs more help to sta­bi­lize the industrial east, where sep­a­ratists have seized par­tial con­trol of two re­gions and shelling is rum­bling on de­spite a Fe­bru­ary cease­fire.

Ob­servers with the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) near the flash­point town of Shy­rokyne said they had wit­nessed “the most in­tense shelling” since fight­ing be­gan there in mid-Fe­bru­ary, as well as move­ment of heavy weapons.

Ahead of the sum­mit Poroshenko called on EU lead­ers to “pro­vide pow­er­ful sig­nals in sup­port of Ukraine and its Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion.”

His of­fice said it had “agreed to con­tinue co­or­di­na­tion” with EU of­fi­cials on the pos­si­bil­ity of a peace­keep­ing force.

An EU of­fi­cial said ahead of the sum­mit: “We are study­ing th­ese pro­pos­als in de­tail.” But he added that the EU saw “no rea­son” to re­place the OSCE mon­i­tors.

The of­fi­cial said the EU will stand up for Ukraine’s ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty and aims to see Kiev re­gain full con­trol of its eastern bor­der in 2015.

Poroshenko joined hands

in front of the cam­eras with Tusk and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s top ex­ec­u­tive Jean-Claude Juncker be­fore a se­ries of closed-door talks.

The three were sched­uled to give a news con­fer­ence at 1315 GMT.

The top com­mis­sioner for EU en­large­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions, Jo­hannes Hahn, mean­while met Ukraine’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter Natalie Jaresko to dis­cuss fi­nan­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive re­forms, Hahn said in a Twit­ter mes­sage.

Af­ter the EU meet­ings, Poroshenko was to meet other in­ter­na­tional of­fi­cials on Tues­day at a con­fer­ence to show­case Ukraine’s re­forms and lure much-needed in­vest­ment.

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