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Putin Calls for Talks in Ukraine as Fighting Spreads

Published: September 1, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • A pro-Russian rebel watches as Ukrainian troops are evacuated from the rebel-held town of Starobesheve, eastern Ukraine on Saturday.
    Photo: Sergei Grits / AP

KIEV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called on Ukraine to immediately start talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Hours later, Ukraine said a border guard vessel operating in the Azov Sea was attacked by land-based forces. Pro-Russian rebels have recently opened a new offensive along the seacoast.

Putin's comment, made to national TV network Channel 1, said Ukraine should "hold substantive, meaningful talks, not about technical issues but about the question of the political organization of society and statehood in southeast Ukraine, with the goal of safeguarding the legitimate interests of those people who live there."

Despite the use of the word "statehood," Putin did not envision sovereignty for the two separatist eastern regions that style themselves as "Novorossiya" (New Russia ), his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later, according to a Russian news report.

Putin's comments came a day after leaders of the European Union decided to put off any new sanctions against Russia for at least a week.

On Sunday, a spokesman for Ukraine's offensive against Russia-backed rebels said a border guard vessel has been fired on with artillery - apparently the first incident at sea in the fighting.

The spokesman, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said the attack occurred Sunday afternoon but he had no further information, including how many people were aboard the boat.

The attack took place amid heightened concern that the rebels are trying to seize a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in March.

Until this week, the area along the Azov Sea had escaped the fighting that has gripped areas farther north since April.

Meanwhile, two prominent U.S. senators said Sunday that the Obama administration should not only push for tougher sanctions on Russia, but should also send weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 26


Celebrate Boxing Day by playing various tabletop games during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening tonight at 5 p.m. Spread the Christmas cheer and goodwill by making other people regret their decision to come and try to match their intellectual prowess against yours.



Saturday, Dec. 27


Indulge cultural and material needs simultaneously during the free classical music concert at the Galeria shopping mall in the heart of the city. Starting at 7 p.m., shoppers and mallwalkers will be able to hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Strauss softly lilt over the constant buzz of people bustling from store to store, trying to get their shopping done before New Year.



Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Year’s Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Children’s Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Sweden’s cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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