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Ukraine: what next from the West?

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 02:30

With Ukraine's ceasefire strained to breaking point, President Poroshenko's call for UN peacekeepers puts a new onus on the international community to come up with a fresh response to the conflict - if it can. David Pollard reports.

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A ceasefire barely a week old. If not already dead, then suffocated by claims and counterclaims. This is from a Ukrainian soldier who - though it wasn't clear whether he was speaking under duress - says he voluntarily gave himself up to pro-Russian rebels, and that foreign troops are lending Ukraine a helping hand. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UKRAINIAN PRISONER, YEVGENY CHUDNETSOV, SAYING: "There were foreigners in our battalion, there were Swedes, there were French, there were foreign instructors. And foreigners used foreign weapons." New video shows Ukrainian troops back in government-controlled territory. Kiev says the rebels are still attacking their comrades elsewhere - some reports from the ground contradict that. Thousands pulled out from the strategic town of Debaltseve after a massive rebel assault - itself a breach of the ceasefire, it was claimed, though the rebels say it wasn't included in the truce. The picture of disarray prompting Ukrainian President Poroshenko to call for UN peacekeepers to monitor the situation. And some investors to urge their peers to sit up and take notice. Charles Stanley's Chief Economist Jeremy Batstone-Carr. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, CHARLES STANLEY'S CHIEF ECONOMIST, SAYING: ''I think this is extremely perturbing. There is the clear case for escalation. I sincerely hope, as I'm sure every viewer hopes, that it doesn't escalate, but it could, and I'm really quite surprised by how sanguine the markets are towards this.'' NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg - speaking as EU defence ministers meet in Latvia - also voiced his concern at the ceasefire. The talk here is also of a wider threat from Russia. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania face a ''a real and present danger''. That's according to UK defence minister, Michael Fallon, quoted in British newspapers. Who says NATO stands ready to repel any aggression. Dangerous talk, says Batstone-Carr. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, CHARLES STANLEY'S CHIEF ECONOMIST, SAYING: ''It would almost certainly call forth some form of tit-for-tat reaction. I really do think both sides need to be much brighter about this. An escalation serves ultimately nobody.'' As for Ukraine - declaring the ceasefire dead might force Europe to impose new sanctions on Russia. And revive US talk of arming Kiev. But EU leaders say the ceasefire isn't dead - just damaged. And in a new move, President Hollande of France says he, Angela Merkel of Germany and the Russian and Ukrainian leaders have spoken again by phone. With an agreement to give the ceasefire another push.

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Ukraine: what next from the West?

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 02:30