Zelenskyy Asks Putin to Influence "That Side" Over Deadly Donbas Shelling
7 August, 2019

The death of four Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbas prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to call Russian President Vladimir Putin on the morning of August 7. He urged Moscow to influence "that side" so that they "stop killing our people.” 

It was reported on the afternoon of August 6 that Russia-led militants fired at the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher and a heavy machine gun in the area near the village of Pavlopil, 100 km south of Donetsk, resulting in the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers. 

The deadly shelling – amid the July 21 truce agreement – triggered an urgent meeting between Zelenskyy and Ukraine's military and national security leadership. Zelenskyy announced at the press briefing after it that he had spoken to the Russian President. 

“In the morning I talked with Putin. I called him urgently and said that this (the shelling in the Donbas -ed.) is not bringing us closer to peace,” Zelenskyy announced.

At the briefing, the head of the General Staff of Ukraine, Ruslan Khomchak, said that since the start of the July 21 ceasefire, six Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and nine other injured. 

“We had a long conversation,” President Zelenskyy commented upon his phone conversation with Putin.

At least 13,000 people have been killed since the start of the war, according to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Of the 13,000, 3,332 were civilian deaths. 

According to Zelenskyy, the two presidents also discussed demining the Donbas, speeding up the construction of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, and the release of war prisoners. 

Zelenskyy did not say how Putin responded but the Kremlin issued a statement later on the day, which, among other things, read that "an activation of the work toward the return of those detained" was agreed upon.

In connection with the escalation in the Donbas, President Zelenskyy has announced that he will phone French President Emmanuel Macron and would like to talk today with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

“We urgently need to meet with the leaders of the Normandy Four, look each other in the eye and end the war,” the head of state said. 

For the first time, the political subgroup, Trilateral Contact Group for the Settlement of the Situation in the East of Ukraine along with representatives of armed force groups, agreed on a complete ceasefire. Roman Bezsmertnyi, representative of the subgroup in Minsk, added that they had agreed to stop the fire in the Donbas “forever and ever.” However, soon after, shelling began. 

READ MORE: Ukraine's Zelenskyy Holds Talks With Putin for the First Time