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Poroshenko Blames Russia For Recent Deaths Of Eight Soldiers In Country's East


Lukashenka Gets Red-Carpet Welcome In Ukraine
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WATCH: Lukashenka Gets Red-Carpet Welcome In Ukraine

KYIV -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has blamed Russia for the recent deaths of eight Ukrainian soldiers in its eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, where Moscow-backed separatists have intensified shelling of Ukrainian forces.

Poroshenko told reporters in Kyiv on July 21 that "Ukraine will adequately respond to the death of every Ukrainian citizen," without being specific.

The Ukrainian leader made the comments after meeting with visiting Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Poroshenko said he plans to raise the issue of Russia's actions during July 24 telephone talks of the Normandy group consisting of leaders of Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia.

Poroshenko called Russia "an aggressor country," and claimed that "11,000 Ukrainians were killed" in the ongoing military conflicts in Luhansk and Donetsk, where some districts have been controlled by pro-Russia separatists since April 2014.

Poroshenko said he will "demand the immediate and genuine provision of a cease-fire along the entire frontline" on the terms of the so-called Minsk agreements.

A deal brokered by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2015 calls for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, and constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy, although it has yet to be solidified on the ground.

In his meetings, Lukashenka said he proposed organizing humanitarian convoys from Belarus to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions "without any mediators."

According to the United Nations, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it began in 2014, shortly after Moscow illegally annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea and offered support to pro-Russia separatist in the east.

Russia has denied its involvement in eastern Ukraine.

Separately, the U.S. administration said its new special representative for Ukraine negotiations, Kurt Volker, will be traveling on July 21 to eastern Ukraine.

The State Department said Volker will meet with people "affected by Russian aggression" and in subsequent days meet with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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