Ukraine says rebels must disarm before talks

The Ukrainian government will restart ceasefire negotiations with pro-Russian insurgents in the country’s east only once the rebels lay down their weapons, Defence Minister Valery Heletey said on Tuesday

Last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised ceasefire talks no later than that Saturday, but a series of military successes by the Ukrainian Army may have changed minds in Kiev. Instead, on Saturday, Ukrainian troops routed the rebels in Slovyansk, forcing hundreds of militants to regroup in the regional capital, Donetsk.

A 10-day ceasefire that ended in late June was punctuated by frequent clashes and provided no progress in reaching a negotiated settlement. More than 400 people have died and thousands have fled their homes after a nearly three-month-long standoff between the rebels and the new authorities in Kiev, who came to power after the ex-President’s ouster in February.

Rebels in Ukraine and nationalists in Russia have called for the Kremlin to protect the insurgents, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far made no comment on the rebels’ defeat in Slovyansk, while state media and other officials have downplayed the loss.

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