Hundreds of aid trucks return to Russia
Asked what message he intended to convey to Putin, Poroshenko said "take away your armed people from our territory and I can promise peace will come to Ukraine very soon."
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Poroshenko to praise Ukraine for its restraint in the face of Russia’s "blatant provocation and disregard of Ukraine’s sovereignty." The U.S. also expressed shock at the news that Lithuanian Honorary Consul Mykola Zelenec was abducted and murdered by separatists in Luhansk and extended its condolences to his family.
Ukraine has retaken control of much of its eastern territory bordering Russia in the last few weeks, but fierce fighting for the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk persists.
In Ukraine’s Donetsk, the largest city under rebel control, residents reported artillery strikes throughout Friday night and Saturday. The mayor’s office said six people were killed, including two who had been waiting for a bus and three others in an artillery strike on their apartment building.
The stadium of Ukrainian soccer champion Shakhtar Donetsk, a city landmark that had hosted games for the 2012 European championships, was damaged by shelling Saturday.
Unrest in eastern Ukraine began in mid-April, one month after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. The United Nations says more than 2,000 people have been killed and 340,000 forced to flee their homes during the fighting.
Leonard reported from Slovyansk, Ukraine; Nataliya Vasilyeva in Kiev, Mstyslav Chernov in Izvaryne, Jim Heintz in Moscow and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.