Ukraine Rebels Reject Truce Talks

Ukraine Rebels Reject Truce TalksUkraine Rebels Reject Truce Talks

The main pro-Russian rebel leader in eastern Ukraine said his troops are on the offensive and he does not want truce talks with Kiev.

Alexander Zakharchenko said on Friday his forces would push the front line back to the borders of Donetsk region. They are in control of the city of Donetsk, BBC reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian government forces of “criminal” shelling of civilian areas.

Kiev “ordered the start of major combat operations” along the front, he said. Earlier, Zakharchenko said the rebels “will not make any attempts at ceasefire talks any more.”

Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany have issued a call to end fighting.

On Thursday, Ukrainian government troops withdrew from Donetsk airport’s main terminal. The government said the military still retained control of parts of the airport, but six soldiers had died and 16 had been wounded.

Zakharchenko also said, “We will attack right up to the borders of Donetsk region, but if I see a threat from other directions we will neutralize it.”

“Kiev doesn’t understand now that we can attack in three directions simultaneously,” Russian media quoted him as saying.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in fighting since rebels seized a large swathe of Donetsk and Luhansk regions last April, UN officials say. More than a million people have been displaced.

A rebel statement on Friday said Ukrainian forces’ shelling of Donetsk and Horlivka had killed 16 civilians in the past 24 hours.