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Ongoing diplomatic efforts to stop bloodshed in Ukraine

January 26, 2015

Diplomatic efforts are continuing in an attempt to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine. A quick breakthrough is not expected, with both sides blaming each other for the deadly shelling of Mariupol over the weekend.

Ukraine Gedenken an Opfer in Mariupol in Kiew 25.01.2015
On Sunday, people in Kyiv remembered the people who died in the Mariupol attackImage: AFP/Getty Images/S. Supinsky

The United Nations Security Council has scheduled a special meeting to discuss the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine later on Monday, two days after a rocket attack that killed around 30 people in the strategic port city of Mariupol.

The meeting was convened by Lithuania, a non-permanent member, which currently chairs the Security Council, at the request of the Kyiv government.

However, it wasn't immediately clear what, if any concrete result Kyiv was seeking to achieve at the meeting. On Saturday, Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, used its veto to block a Western-backed statement condemning the Mariupol rocket attacks.

Also on Monday, the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was set to meet in Vienna to discuss what it described as the "rapid deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine." Members of the OSCE's mission in eastern Ukraine investigated the rocket attacks and determined that they had been fired from territory held by the pro-Russia separatists fighting government forces loyal to Kyiv.

On Sunday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced that EU foreign ministers would discuss the Ukraine crisis at an "extraordinary" meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Merkel weighs in

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to both Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Sunday. According to Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, the chancellor used her conversation with Poroshenko to express her condolences over the loss of civilian life in Mariupol.

Seibert said that during her conversation with Putin, "the chancellor urged him to avoid a further escalation and to exert influence on the separatists in order to achieve the implementation of the Minsk agreement."

Earlier in the day, Poroshenko had stressed that his government remained committed to de-escalating the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

"Ukraine remains a firm proponent of a peaceful solution," he told an emergency meeting of senior security and defense officials.

"Beginning a political process of de-escalation and regulation remains our priority. We don't see an alternative to the Minsk agreement."

The ceasefire deal signed with pro-Russian separatists in the Belarusian capital in September has repeatedly been breached. Renewed fighting over the past week escalated on Saturday with the attack on Mariupol, which both sides have blamed on each other.

pfd/cmk (AFP, AP)