You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

World

  • Passengers in Russia's Arctic give airliner a push
    In other countries, you may be asked to give a push to a car stuck in the mud. In Russia, passengers in the Arctic came out of an airliner to the bitter cold to help it move to the runway.
  • Freighter with 700 migrants being towed to Crete
    ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek navy frigate was towing a crippled freighter with hundreds of migrants on board through gale-force winds and high waves to safety on the southern island of Crete today, a day after it suffered engine failure in
  • Once maligned, Iran's Jews find greater acceptance
    YAZD, Iran (AP) — More than a thousand people trekked across Iran this past week to visit a shrine in this ancient Persian city, a pilgrimage like many others in the Islamic Republic — until you notice men there wearing yarmulkes.
Advertisement
Vadim Ghirda | AP
A man breaks down in tears while passing by the coffin of pro-Russian activist Andrei Brazhevskiy during his funeral in Odessa, Ukraine, on Wednesday. Brazhevskiy, 27, died jumping out of a burning trade union building Friday.

Putin claims troops have pulled back from Ukraine border

MOSCOW – Russia has pulled back its troops from the Ukrainian border, Vladimir Putin told diplomats Wednesday as he urged insurgents in southeast Ukraine to postpone their planned referendum Sunday on autonomy.

In a Moscow meeting with Swiss president Didier Burkhalter, Putin said the Russian troops have been pulled back to their training grounds and locations for “regular exercises,” but didn’t specify whether those locations were in areas near Ukraine.

Putin also called on Ukraine’s military to halt all operations against pro-Russia activists who have seized government buildings and police stations in at least a dozen towns in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine launched a government offensive late last week to take back buildings and towns under control of the insurgents. At least 35 people, including many rebels, have died in that offensive, the government said.

Many had feared that Sunday’s vote on more autonomy would be a flashpoint for further violence between the rebels and Ukrainian troops in the east. Russia annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March after residents held a vote and overwhelmingly backed secession.

“We believe that the most important thing is to create direct, full-fledged dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine,” Putin said. “Because of this, we ask that representatives of southeast Ukraine, supporters of federalization in the country. Postpone the May 11 referendum in order to create the necessary conditions for such a dialogue.”

Despite Putin’s comments, pro-Russia militants calling themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic said they would still carry out the referendum on Sunday.

Putin also described Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election as a move “in the right direction,” and said his talk with Burkhalter, who is chairman-in-office for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, encouraged him that “our approaches (to Ukraine) coincide.”

The Russian leader still repeated Russia’s long-held stance that constitutional reforms must precede any nationwide vote in Ukraine.

In Berlin, a leading Ukrainian presidential candidate said he was prepared to negotiate a decentralization of power as pro-Russia insurgents in the east have demanded.

But Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate magnate, added that some insurgents in the eastern region understand only “the language of force.”

Peter Leonard in Donetsk, Ukraine contributed to this report.

Advertisement