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Russian journalist killed as West pressures Putin before Ukraine truce deadlinePublish Date: Jun 30, 2014
Russian journalist killed as West pressures Putin before Ukraine truce deadline
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Russian president Putin. AFP/PHOTO
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Russian journalist killed as West pressures Putin before Ukraine truce deadline

Russian state journalist was killed in conflict-hit east Ukraine as violence rumbled on hours before a shaky truce was set to expire and pressure mounted on Moscow to stem the fighting.

Cameraman Anatoly Klyan, 68, from Russia's Channel One died after being shot in the stomach by Ukrainian troops while on an overnight reporting trip with insurgents at a military base near the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, the TV station said on Monday.

Russia's foreign ministry said the death showed that Ukrainian forces "clearly do not want a de-escalation in the armed conflict in the east."

The latest violence came as French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Vladimir Putin that Moscow could face punishing sanctions if he fails to rein in pro-Russian fighters, which he is accused of supporting.

The French presidency said the two leaders made their case to the Kremlin strongman in a call on Sunday that lasted for more than two hours and also included Ukraine's embattled pro-Western leader Petro Poroshenko.

The new Ukrainian president's office said the four agreed to speak again on Monday, when a ceasefire due to expire at 1900 GMT.

The truce has not stopped the 13-week conflict. Both sides accuse each other of carrying on firing. Ukrainian military reported losing five more soldiers over the weekend.

Sunday's teleconference -- the second in four days -- was arranged in Brussels on Friday when Poroshenko put his name to a historic trade deal with Europe that ruptured Kiev's historic ties with Moscow.

The European Union has told Putin he has until Monday to put explicit pressure on the separatist gunmen in restive east Ukraine or face the possibility of sanctions against entire sectors of the Russian economy.

The United States has promised to move in lockstep with Europe on Russian sanctions.

The French statement said Sunday's call stressed "the importance of new concrete steps to stabilise the security situation on the ground, the extension of the ceasefire and the implementation of the peace plan presented by the Ukrainian authorities."

Amid the tough talk from Paris, however, some 400 Russian marines arrived in France as part of a controversial 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) warship deal between Paris and Moscow that went through despite calls from NATO for it to be suspended over the Ukraine crisis.

- Conflicting demands -

The Kremlin's account of the Sunday conversation made no mention of the European conditions and stressed the joint call for Poroshenko not to resume his eastern military campaign.

It also once again urged Ukraine to accept "immediate" Russian humanitarian aid in the conflict zone. Kiev suspects Moscow of planning to use such deliveries to smuggle arms to the rebel fighters.

The conflicting demands between Moscow and Kiev are also vividly reflected on the battlefield.

Separatist leaders say they will not engage in direct negotiations with Kiev until government forces withdraw from the heavily Russified east.

And Poroshenko refuses to meet rebel commanders who have "blood on their hands".

The Western-backed head of state has also hinted that he may again resort to force should the guerrillas fail to disarm and cede control of state buildings across a dozen cities and towns.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of both arming and funding the militias in a bid to unsettle the new Ukrainian government as revenge for the February ouster of a pro-Kremlin president who had ditched the very EU agreement Poroshenko signed on Friday.

Ukraine's worst crisis since its independence in 1991 has now claimed some 450 lives.

The possibility of the United States and Europe freezing access to Russia's banking sector has already dented the country's outlook.

Russia's economy minister warned on Saturday that new sanctions could "seriously" impact growth that the International Monetary Fund believes may only reach 0.2 percent this year.

Moscow has indicated it is preparing an economic counter-offensive that would slap prohibitive barriers on Ukrainian trade.

Russian and EU ministers have tentatively agreed to meet on July 11 to discuss how Moscow's concerns over the EU agreements signed by Ukraine and also Moldova and Georgia might be best addressed.

Ukraine's commissioner on European integration warned he expected the consultations with Russia to be acrimonious and possibly fruitless.AFP
 

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