Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko swore to “find and destroy” the perpetrators of a missile attack claimed the lives of 23 members of the Ukrainian military on Friday. The Ukrainian leader vowed to repay the death of each Ukrainian soldier with “scores and hundreds of” militant lives. Poroshenko swore to exact revenge on each and every one of the militants, and ensure that each of them is held responsible for the attack.
The presidential diatribe came on the heels of a volley of missiles that rocked a Ukrainian army border post at Zelenopillya, located in the restive Luthansk province, and wounded approximately 100 soldiers in addition the 23 dead. The attack appears to be a type of last-ditch effort to inflict maximum casualties on the Ukrainian army, which appears to be prevailing in the conflict with pro-Russia rebels. The attack represents the most lethal of all rebel strikes since the Ukrainian president elected to end a cease-fire agreement and reengage the rebels throughout the previously rebel-occupied provinces of Donetsk and Luthansk.
With the tide seeming to turn in favor of the Ukrainian military, armed rebel forces have retreated to the industrial city of Donetsk, where they have become entrenched and seem prepared for a final stand against the Ukrainian military. The inhabitants of the city, seemingly afraid of what a siege on Donetsk may bring, have begun to flee the city, with an estimated 70,000 already having left.
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- After hours of negotiations and meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry, candidates for the presidency of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have agreed to audit all 8 million votes cast in the runoff election last month. This is part of a larger deal to end an intensifying standoff between the two candidates. With both claiming victory and promising to form their own governments, Kerry’s compromise is only the first step in ensuring that power is handed off peacefully. The audit will attempt to resolve the issue of widespread fraud and will begin immediately, and its results will be binding, according to Kerry’s joint statement with Karzai, Ghani, and Abdullah late on Saturday.
- The prospects for the Vienna negotiations on Iran’s nuclear deal are looking worse, with news that foreign ministers of Russia and China planned to skip the talks this weekend. The absence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is notable, giving some cause to suspect that talks will have to be extended or ended entirely. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and UK Foreign Minister William Hague have tried to present a united front on the issue of enrichment, but Iran’s chief negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, on Saturday warned that they are ready to walk away if “excessive” Western demands cause a failure.
- Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s latest border clash has caused a stir among officials, who blamed each other in quick succession. According to Tajik officials, several casualties were incurred when Kyrgyz border guards tried to stop a group of Tajiks installing a pipe in Vorukh. Kyrgyz officials, on the other hand, contend that the skirmish occurred in the Tamdyk area and was provoked by “unlawful actions of Tajik citizens.” The Vorukh region is one of several “enclaves” of Tajikistan that exist within the Batken province of Kyrgyzstan.
- Both Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among the spectators yesterday at the World Cup final match between Argentina and Germany yesterday in Brazil. A foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that the leaders would attend a lunch hosted by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff just before the match began. Putin had confirmed his attendance weeks ago, and also confirmed he would be meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the match. This will be the first meeting between the two since four-way telephone conferences were held between Putin, Poroshenko, Merkel, and Francois Hollande in late June.