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Poroshenko: no peace in Ukraine until Russian withdrawal

By Ed Adamczyk
Poroshenko: no peace in Ukraine until Russian withdrawal
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko participate in a welcome ceremony for first U.S. air-force plane to Ukraine with non-lethal military equipment including ten Humvee vehicles in Kiev airport on March 25, 2015. Poroshenko was critical of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, saying peace was only possible after Russian troops leave. File Photo by UPI/Ivan Vakolenko. | License Photo

BERLIN, May 14 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was critical of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, saying peace was only possible after Russian troops leave.

Poroshenko told a German television interviewer that 11,000 Russian troops are currently in the Donbass, the part of eastern Ukraine in conflict, adding, "We pay a very high price for this pseudo-tranquility. But now the situation is that, since the signing of the Minsk agreements (in February) on a ceasefire in Donbass, 83 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and more than 400 were injured. The country is losing its heroes almost every day. Today, we see that in spite of the Minsk agreements, the amount of Russian weapons and Russian troops in the occupied territories only increases."

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He repeated his contention that a military solution is unachievable, and that Ukraine has followed the provisions of the Minsk agreement, including withdrawal of heavy artillery along lines of combat. Poroshenko is in Germany to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week.

In a separate interview, Ukrainian Prime Minister Aseny Yatseniuk referred to his country as the battleground in Russian President Vladimir Putin's battle against the West.

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"What is the ultimate goal of President Putin?" he told French news channel France24. "He is not just fighting against Ukraine ... he is fighting against you. He is fighting against the Western world, he is fighting against the free world, he is fighting against the EU (European Union). Stability in Russia lies in the instability of the European Union. Ukraine just became the battlefield."

Yatseniuk added Ukraine would hold a referendum which could grant more autonomy to its eastern provinces, "but it is impossible to hold free and fair elections under the barrel of the Russian gun."

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