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Ukrainian Leader To Visit Embattled Eastern City Of Mariupol

Soldiers of Ukrainian self-defense battalion Azov man a check point on a road in the eastern Ukrainian city Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday.
Anatoly Maltsev EPA/Landov
Soldiers of Ukrainian self-defense battalion Azov man a check point on a road in the eastern Ukrainian city Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday.

Ukraine's president says he's planning to travel to the embattled city of Mariupol in the country's east as European monitors say a cease-fire in the region between Kiev's forces and pro-Russian separatists is largely holding despite reports of renewed shelling over the weekend.

Petro Poroshenko's visit to the city on Monday "would be a symbolic show of strength in a strategic government-held area that has come under rebel fire in recent days, and proves Kiev is unlikely to willingly loosen what remains of its grip over the rebellious east," The Associated Press says.

The AP quotes Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security Council, as telling reporters Monday that there had been about half a dozen rebel violations of the cease-fire, but no one had been killed and no heavy artillery had been used.


"That's a big achievement," Lysenko said. "We understand that the cease-fire imposes some discipline to our enemies and also allows our military to bring its reserves closer."

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, reporting from Kiev, says that sentiment is echoed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has about 250 monitors deployed in Ukraine.

OSCE said there had been some violations as shooting continued in the eastern Ukrainian separatist stronghold of Donetsk.

The United Nations says the estimated number of people killed in the five-month conflict has risen above 3,000, if the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane shot down over eastern Ukraine earlier this year are included.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the European Union is considering a new round of sanctions targeting Russia will prevent the country's top oil producers from raising capital on European markets.


Oil producers and pipeline operators Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft would be among the targeted entities, Reuters quotes an EU diplomat as saying.

Reuters says:

"EU sanctions, however, do not encompass the gas sector and in particular state-owned Gazprom, the world's biggest gas producer which is also the biggest gas supplier to Europe. "In general, the EU sanctions on raising money in the European Union for Russian companies will apply to firms that have turnover of more than 1 trillion roubles ($26.95 billion) and half of that is generated from the sale or transport of oil, the diplomat said. "The sanctions will be agreed unless by 1300 GMT [9 a.m. ET] one of the EU governments objects to the deal, that was reached by ambassadors of the 28 EU countries already on Friday night."

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