Ukraine wants to bolster military position before resuming talks with Russia

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June 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine wants to strengthen its positions on the ground with the help of new weapons deliveries from the West before it resumes peace talks with Russia, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said.

“Our armed forces are ready to use (the new weapons)…and then I think we can initiate a new round of talks from a strengthened position,” he told Ukraine national television on Friday.

Ukraine said it had recaptured a chunk of the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk region, the focus of a Russian offensive to take the eastern Donbas region.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday its forces shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying weapons and munitions near the Black Sea port of Odesa.

The ministry said Russian missiles also struck an artillery training centre in Ukraine’s Sumy region where foreign instructors worked. Another strike destroyed a “foreign mercenaries'” outpost in the Odesa region, it said.

 A ship sent to load metal and ship it to Russia has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, TASS news agency reported on Saturday, the second vessel to arrive in the southeastern city since Russia completed its capture last month.

“The ship has arrived and is in the port,” TASS cited a port authority representative as saying, adding that it was to be loaded with metal.

Earlier this week, a ship left Mariupol for Russia with a cargo of metal. Ukraine said the shipment from the port, whose capture gave Moscow an overland bridge linking mainland Russia and pro-Russian separatist territory to annexed Crimea, amounted to looting. 

Russia seized full control of Mariupol earlier this month when more than 2,400 Ukrainian fighters were taken into custody after being ordered to stand down at the besieged Azovstal steelworks. Russia said in late May that the port had been de-mined and was open again to commercial vessels.

Photo courtesy Ukrainian MoD

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