Ukraine conflict: Poroshenko vows to 'calm' Mariupol fighting

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Media captionThe BBC's David Stern: Bodies on the streets of Mariupol

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to "calm" fighting with pro-Russia rebels in east Ukraine after 30 people were killed there on Saturday.

Speaking after an emergency meeting of Ukraine's security council, Mr Poroshenko said that a peace deal signed in September in Minsk was the only solution to the conflict.

Russia's foreign minister also urged "comprehensive political dialogue".

Both sides blame each other for the continuing fighting.

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Image caption Unexploded missiles remained on the streets of Mariupol on Sunday

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

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of arming the rebels and sending its troops into Ukrainian territory.

Russia has denied directly arming the separatists, and blames Ukraine for the upsurge in fighting.

Rocket attacks

A series of rocket attacks left 30 people dead and many more injured in the city of Mariupol in east Ukraine on Saturday.

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Media captionDramatic footage purportedly showing shelling in Mariupol

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said that his troops had begun an offensive to retake the strategic city, but denied that they were responsible for the deaths.

Mr Poroshenko said that intercepted radio and telephone conversations proved that separatists were behind the attacks. The authenticity of the messages has not yet been independently verified.

"This attack, unfortunately, was made by terrorists supported by Russia" he said.

He also called for a meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss new ways "increasing pressure" on Russia.

Russia denied that it was to blame for the upsurge in fighting.

"The situation is a result of Ukrainian troops crudely violating the Minsk agreements by constantly shelling residential settlements" the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In a telephone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogerhini, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the EU to push Ukraine towards a "comprehensive political dialogue".

Mariupol has a population of 500,000 and is in a highly strategic position, sitting between rebel-held eastern areas and Crimea, which was annexed by Russia last March. The city saw heavy fighting in August.

Ukraine: the human cost

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  • Some 5.2 million people live in conflict-affected areas and 1.4 million are considered "highly vulnerable and in need of assistance"
  • More than a million people have fled their homes with 633,523 living as displaced persons within Ukraine and 593,622 living outside Ukraine, mostly in Russia
  • More than 5,000 people have been killed in the fighting and more than 10,300 injured

Source: UN report of 9 January for refugee figures; news reports for casualty estimates

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