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RUSSIA

Russia and Ukraine trade barbs over Swiss death

Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels clashed Friday around the flashpoint city of Donetsk, while trading blame over the death of a Swiss aid worker, four weeks into their shaky truce.

Russia and Ukraine trade barbs over Swiss death
People wait for food outside Red Cross building in Mariupol, Ukraine, south of Donetsk. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov accused insurgents of breaking the ceasefire "over a thousand times", while the military claimed that Russian military specialists were reinforcing rebel positions.
   
The deadly shelling of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Donetsk, which prompted a firm rebuke from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was an "act of terror", Kiev said, blaming rebels who control the city.
   
"This terrorist act cannot be justified," Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement on the death of the 38-year-old Geneva-based ICRC employee.

Kiev's military said the rebels had repeatedly fired on central Donetsk "to discredit the anti-terrorist operation."
   
Kiev also accused the insurgents of firing shells that hit a school bus and nearby bus station on the first day of classes in Donetsk on Wednesday, killing ten civilians.
   
However, Russia and the rebels both accused Ukrainian forces for the Red Cross worker's death.
   
"The Ukrainian army is firing at Donetsk for the second day in a row from Uragan (Hurricane multiple rocket launcher) systems," Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told AFP.
   
"Firing from such systems is not targeted. They simply hit a general area, along with everyone in it," he said, adding that the strike most likely originated from Krasnogorovka, a town 20 kilometres west of Donetsk.
   
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich echoed Purgin, saying the fire came from positions controlled by Ukrainian soldiers and calling for a full investigation.
   
"In Kiev they didn't want to admit the obvious: the area of Donetsk that came under fire is under control of rebels and the shelling came from positions occupied by Ukrainian forces," the Russian ministry spokesman said.
 

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UKRAINE

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.

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