DONETSK, January 25. /TASS/. The Ukrainian military’s shelling of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is a provocation aimed at changing the format of talks on resolving the Donbass conflict, the chief negotiator of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic at the Minsk talks, Denis Pushilin said on Sunday.
“We saw what happened in Mariupol. This is another attempt to accuse militias and cast them in a negative light. Today they call for turning the Minsk talks to a Geneva format and involve the United States there,” Pushilin was quoted by the Donetsk republic’s press service as saying.
Pushilin said after the shelling the only possible response measure was to “suppress the artillery positions of the enemy,” adding that “they understand only this language.”
“At the current stage, all the agreements are not being fulfilled by the Ukrainian side. When we managed to force the enemy out of the airport [Donetsk] the number of shellings reduced, but other provocations took place,” he said.
On Saturday, the eastern area of Mariupol came under fire. As a result of the shelling, 30 civilians were killed, including two children, and another 95 people were injured, according to the mayor’s office.
Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reached an agreement on the need to hold negotiations in the Geneva format with the participation of the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine.
The talks of the Contact Group in Minsk are the only format where the opposing sides in the Ukrainian conflict - the representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and Kiev - are working directly together on all matters to achieve peaceful settlement.