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Poroshenko Says Conflict Costing Ukraine $5 Million A Day

  • RFE/RL

President Petro Poroshenko has said the conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine costs about $5 million a day -- money that the country could be putting into development.

Speaking to a United Nations summit in New York on September 27, Poroshenko said the fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists has made Ukraine lose "about one fifth of its economic potential."

He said the insurgency in Ukraine’s east "has led to the emergence of a new form of poverty, sudden or unexpected poverty" for thousands of people.

Noting that peace and freedom are necessary to achieve the UN development goals, Poroshenko said Russia's actions prevent Ukraine from progressing.

During the speech, all but one member of the Russian delegation walked out in protest, according to the TASS news agency.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014 in a move that was condemned by more than 100 countries in a vote at the UN General Assembly.

Kyiv and the West also say Russia has sent troops and weapons to fuel the separatist conflict that has killed more than 7,900 people in Ukraine’s east since April 2014. Moscow denies the charges.

Ukrainian and rebel forces have blamed each other for repeated breaches of a cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk in February, but both sides are now broadly respecting a renewed truce that came into effect on September 1.

On September 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to make his first appearance at the UN General Assembly in a decade, and hold talks with his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama.

In an interview with The Associated Press late on September 27, Poroshenko said he wants the talks between Obama and Putin to lead to better implementation of the Minsk accord.

He said he expects Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union to coordinate "a firm incentive” for Putin to comply with the peace agreement.

"This applies to the impossibility of holding sham elections in the occupied territory, thorough implementation of all terms of the deal, access for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] to all control checkpoints, withdrawal of all Russian soldiers from the occupied territories, and closing the border," Poroshenko said.

"I believe that effective coordination of our actions will bring results," the Ukrainian president added.

Rebels in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk are organizing local elections in October and November.

Kyiv dismisses the planned elections, saying voting can only be held in accordance with Ukrainian law.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and TASS