Monday, August 25, 2014

Germany/Ukraine/Russia: President Petro Poroshenko, Russia's Vladimir Putin to Meet 8/26

According to The Associated Press, shouts of "Fascists!" and "Hang them from a tree!" against captured Ukrainian soldiers who were paraded through the streets of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday (August 24) as bystanders pelted them with eggs, water bottles and tomatoes.

The spectacle of the bruised and filthy soldiers being marched hands bound and surrounded by gun-toting pro-Russian insurgents came as Ukrainians in Kiev celebrated their country's independence from the Soviet Union--a stark display of the growing divisions between east and west.

Rachel Denber of the New York City-based Human Rights Watch cited an article of the Geneva Conventions that prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" of captives of armed conflicts.

Resentment has grown in the east as residential areas have increasingly come under fire in recent weeks, with the civilian death toll rising to at least 2,000 since April, according to United Nations figures.  

COMMENT: In recent weeks, Kiev's troops have scored heavy gains in territory and encircled the east's regional capitals of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has only been in office since June 7, 2014,  and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, are scheduled to meet on Tuesday (August 26) in Minsk, Belarus, in the company of other EU leaders. 

The two men have not met since early June and many hope that the talks could help defuse the continuing conflict in the east.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday (August 24), who was instrumental in setting the meeting up between the two leaders, cautioned against expectations of a decisive breakthrough at the much-anticipated meeting.

"The meeting in Minsk certainly won't yet bring on a breakthrough," she said. "But you have to speak to one another if you want to find solutions."