The fragile ceasefire between Kiev and militias in eastern Ukraine holds despite continuing reports of shelling and fighting. According to UN, the bloody conflict has so far claimed more than 3,000 lives and left hundreds of thousands of people displaced.
Refugees from eastern Ukraine’s regions of Donetsk and Lugansk are protesting at the country’s government in Kiev, reports the local press. They are demanding authorities give them a place to live, food and clothes. The demonstrators made an installation – a sofa, on which there are words, saying “It is as empty as your promises.”
At least seven people died and 36 were injured in the Donetsk Region during shelling, the Donetsk People’s Republic told RIA Novosti.
“The shelling is very intense, five self-defense forces have been killed, 30 injured,” the deputy head of the self-defense forces, Eduard Basurin, said. “As for civilians, a couple was killed … near Donetsk and six civilians injured,” he added.
According to the Ukraine Council of National Security and Defense, 13 troops have been injured in the last 24 hours in the Donetsk Region.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to a preliminary gas price for the winter months, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told Ukrainian TV channels.
"[We] reached an agreement," Poroshenko said. "Until March 31 we will fix the price at $385.” The news comes after a meeting between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Milan on Friday.
Poroshenko added that Ukraine might need help from international players to pay Russia. "We must solve the question of how we cover the deficit of funds for Naftogaz for gas purchases," Poroshenko said. "We have several different options [including] the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."
The IMF is scheduled to visit Ukraine in mid-November to discuss possible amendments to the Ukrainian loan program, according to Poroshenko.
Earlier, Poroshenko stated that Kiev and Moscow had failed to resolve their gas supplies dispute. Meanwhile, Putin said that only an agreement for winter supplies had been reached, and that details were still being worked out.
A plume of black smoke was seen rising over the Donetsk skyline, Saturday as fighting reportedly resumed in the vicinity of the city's international airport. The facility, located six miles (10 kilometres) from the city centre, is contested by pro-Kiev forces and militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR/DNR).
The law on the special status of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine - which includes Donetsk and Lugansk – has come into force. It was published in the country’s parliamentary newspaper, Holos Ukrayiny. On September 16, the Ukrainian parliament approved laws on special status for the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, as well as amnesty for the rebels in the hostilities. The law guarantees the right to use and study Russian, or any other language, in Ukraine. It also states that local elections are to take place in the regions on December 7.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the current low oil prices are “no tragedy” for the Russian budget, stressing that they may soon see an upward correction.
Speaking at a press briefing following talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Milan on Friday, Putin said the current price of US$80 per barrel is not profitable for producers and should rise in the near future.
The Russian state budget is drafted based on the price of $96 per barrel, he added.
Putin also reassured that that there will be no sharp rise in Russia’s budget deficit. He did, however, state that some corrections to the budget may be made, but that welfare spending won't be affected.
“Maybe we’ll have to correct something in the budget. Maybe cut down some items but it surely won’t be connected with cutting social expenditures,” he said. According to the president, Russia is able to make those corrections without any significant losses taking place.
A total of 3,707 people have been killed and 9075 wounded as of October 15 in the eastern Ukraine conflict, a UN body said. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in its weekly report that the estimates were restrained, and the real figures could be much higher.
The Office's previous report said that 3,682 people had been killed and 8,871 injured.
People continue to leave the conflict-affected territories. By October 17, some 415,000 people had been temporarily displaced – up 13,000 from the week before. Still the number of refugees, didn’t change and remains at 427,000 – the majority of them being in Russia.
UNOCHA officials expressed concern due to ceasefire violations, and the fact that people need support and humanitarian aid. The UN requested humanitarian aid but received only one third of their desired amount – US$11.1 billion dollars.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law giving special status to parts of the troubled Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, a statement on the president's official website said on Thursday.
According to the website, the legislation "defines temporary order of local government in certain districts."
Aiming to restore the regions' infrastructure and "create conditions" to stabilize the situation in the area, the special order enacts governance "in the cities, towns and villages" to be "carried out by territorial communities through local government bodies under the Constitution and the Laws of Ukraine."
The legislation schedules local elections in the districts for December 7. The special order will be valid for three years from the date of its publication.
The Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic are implementing a “silent” ceasefire, DPR Prime Minister Alexandr Zakharchenko said, under which all military actions and firing will stop. According to Zakharchenko, after that heavy vehicles will be taken away from the frontline under OSCE supervision. The DPR headquarters is waiting for a response from the OSCE.
Previously, DPR Deputy PM Ravil Khalikov stated that Kiev had agreed to the demarcation line proposed by the DPR. However, Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, hasn’t confirmed this information.