Putin blames Ukraine's 'criminal orders' for new fighting

Putin blames Ukraine
# 24 January 2015 00:16 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed "criminal orders" by Ukrainian leaders on Friday for a surge in fighting in east Ukraine, and Russian-backed separatists struck a bellicose tone in ruling out seeking more peace talks, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Putin's remarks, and the comments by the separatists' main leader, signaled a hardening of positions in a conflict which the U.N. human rights office said had killed more than 5,000 people, including 262 in the last nine days.

Despite international calls for a ceasefire, rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said his forces would push on with a new offensive and Putin radiated defiance over the crisis, which a Russian official said could be a "bleeding wound for decades".

"The Kiev authorities have given an official order to start large-scale military operations practically throughout the whole line of contact. The result is tens of killed and wounded, not only among the military on both sides but... among civilians," Putin told senior state officials in televised comments.

"Those who give these criminal orders are responsible."

Putin also chided Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for not responding to his proposal to withdraw heavy weapons from the demarcation line between government forces and the separatists as a step toward implementing a ceasefire.

Poroshenko said this week Russia had 9,000 troops inside Ukraine and called on Moscow to withdraw them, blaming it for an armed aggression. Moscow denies sending forces and weapons to east Ukraine, despite what the West says is irrefutable proof.

Poroshenko said his troops were holding the line against the separatists after withdrawing this week from the main terminal at the airport in Donetsk, the biggest city in the east, suffering a symbolic and morale-sapping setback.

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