SNIZHNE, Ukraine — Outside Vladimir Moroz’s snug little brick home, winter and hardship grip war-stricken eastern Ukraine. Money is scarce, the store shelves are bare and an icy wind whips over the snowy steppe.
MINSK/KIEV — Peace talks on Ukraine collapsed on Saturday after just over four hours with no tangible progress towards a new ceasefire but with Ukraine's representative and separatist envoys angrily accusing each other of sabotaging the meeting.
SLOVIANSK, Ukraine – The snow is melting, causing the streets in front of the railway station of the former separatist-controlled Sloviansk to be covered in mud and water. Representatives of local authorities and a group of volunteers patiently await buses transporting the people that have fled Debaltseve, the nearby Donetsk Oblast city where fighting is ferocious.
A new round of peace talks have started between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels after being stalled by the deaths of at least 40 people in 24 hours of fierce fighting.
Pro-Russia separatists claimed on Jan. 31 that they had trapped thousands of Ukrainian government troops in the course of fierce fighting in Ukraine's troubled east.
KRASNYI LUCH - Russia-backed rebels battling for control of a strategic town in eastern Ukraine say they're suffering heavy losses at the hands of government forces after a few key victories.
They were civilians standing in line at the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre in Donetsk, Ukraine. This was aid they needed because of the war between the government and pro-Russian separatists.
Russia's economy ministry said on Jan. 31 it expected gross domestic product to fall 3 percent this year, more optimistic than many analysts' forecasts of a 4-5 percent drop.
President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande discussed increased violence in southeastern Ukraine in a phone call on Jan. 31, the Kremlin said in a statement.
As the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government closes in on its first anniversary, fighting in the east of the country intensified this month as the rebels advanced in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk. About 745 miles away in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, a longtime Russian ally, scared by the war, may be making plans to distance himself from President Vladimir Putin's Russia - depriving Moscow of its closest friend among Slavic nations.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the security environment for the Western allies had 'fundamentally changed' and required the alliance to 'change our defence posture'.
DEBALTSEVE - Outgoing heavy-caliber fire boomed incessantly, shaking the ground and rattling windows around the besieged town. Residents of Debaltseve, seemingly inured to the racket, listened impassively as they mustered at the town hall on Jan. 31 to be evacuated with as many belongings as they could carry.
Facing the economic stings of falling oil prices and Western sanctions, the Central Bank of Russia unexpectedly reversed course on Jan. 30, lowering its crucial interest rate after a year of increases.
A new round of peace talks got under way involving Ukraine and separatists on Jan. 31, even as fighting between Kyiv government forces and the Russian-backed rebels raged in Ukraine’s east, claiming civilian and military lives.
At least 40 people have been reported killed as fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels rages on in the east of the country.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak claims that Russian military servicemen are fighting against Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine, although it is hard to identify them, as they bear no insignia or other identification signs.
Zaporizhia region has been transferred to a high alert regime on Jan. 31.
Twelve people, presumably civilians, were killed in Debaltseve as the forces of separatists shell the city.
DONETSK - Ukrainian government forces shelled the territory of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) more than 20 times last night, resulting in at least two civilian deaths, the DPR defense ministry says.