Ukraine crisis: Leaders to hold more talks amid clashes

A pro-Russian fighter outside a Ukrainian military site captured by rebels in the city of Donetsk - 27 June 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Some rebel leaders refused to observe the ceasefire and clashes with government troops have continued

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are to hold more talks to resolve the conflict in east Ukraine.

Germany and France have urged Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to extend a ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists - due to end on Monday evening - for a second time.

The truce remains under strain, with five Ukrainian soldiers killed in clashes in the east.

A Russian state TV cameraman was also shot dead while reporting in Donetsk.

Russia's Channel One TV said that Anatoly Klyan, 68, was fatally wounded in the stomach when shots were fired by Ukrainian troops near a military base. He was reporting on pro-Russian separatists in the area.

He is the third Russian TV journalist to be killed in Ukraine this month.

In a statement on its website, Russia's foreign ministry said the cameraman's death showed that Ukraine's "security structures" clearly did not want a de-escalation of the conflict.

The ministry demanded that Ukraine carry out an objective investigation.

Deadline looms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held their second talks in a week with Mr Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

The leaders discussed the importance of the ceasefire and the implementation of Mr Poroshenko's peace plan, a statement (in French) from President Hollande's office said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Protesters gathered in Kiev on Sunday to voice their anger at President Poroshenko's truce with rebels
Image copyright AFP
Image caption One man at the demonstrations in the capital carried a sign saying: "We talk - they kill!"

According to the AFP news agency, President Putin used the call to urge Mr Poroshenko to extend the ceasefire "for a longer period".

However, protesters angered by the ceasefire gathered outside President Poroshenko's offices in Kiev on Sunday.

The BBC's David Stern in Kiev says Mr Poroshenko is coming under increased pressure to resume military operations against the rebels.

One demonstrator told Reuters news agency that the temporary truce "didn't bring any results, except deaths of our soldiers".

The ceasefire was extended on Friday for three days and is due to end on Monday at 22:00 local time (19:00 GMT).

Some rebel leaders refused to observe the truce and low-level attacks have continued over the weekend.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There were renewed clashes in Sloviansk on Sunday with both sides accusing one another of firing shells

Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy said five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and at least 17 wounded in clashes in the east of Ukraine.

He also said pro-Russian rebels had seized an air defence unit in Donetsk and captured six soldiers, although this has not been independently verified.

Elsewhere, there were renewed clashes in the rebel stronghold of Sloviansk with government troops and armed separatists accusing one another firing shells in the city.

Photographs showed a badly damaged apartment block and there were reports of civilian casualties, but this has not been confirmed.

EU pressure

President Poroshenko's 15-point peace plan involves decentralising power and holding early local and parliamentary elections.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The separatists in eastern Ukraine continue to occupy several government and military buildings

The European Union has threatened to impose more sanctions on Russia unless Mr Putin puts pressure on pro-Russia rebels to lay down their arms.

Chancellor Merkel warned Russia on Friday the EU was prepared for "drastic measures" if no progress was made on the peace plan.

Her warning came as Mr Poroshenko signed a landmark EU trade pact - an agreement that triggered the recent crisis.

The refusal of Mr Poroshenko's predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, to sign the EU deal - under pressure from Russia - led to protests in Kiev and his eventual overthrow this year.

Russia then annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, and separatists in the east declared independence from Ukraine.

More than 420 people have been killed in fighting between pro-Russia rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine since mid-April, the UN estimates.