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US to send two warships to Black Sea, says Turkey

Kiev rules out offensive against pro-Russia separatists

09 April, 16:20
(ANSA-AFP) - ISTANBUL/KIEV, APR 9 - The United States will send two warships through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea next week, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Friday, as tensions simmer between Russia and Ukraine. The ships will pass through the Bosphorus and enter the increasingly restless region on April 14 and 15 and leave on May 4 and May 5, a Turkish foreign ministry source told reporters. Washington is required to give Ankara at least 15 days' notice before sending warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. The treaty's terms allow foreign warships to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days.

Ukraine said on Friday it would not launch an offensive against pro-Russia separatists controlling two regions in the east, as fears grow of a major escalation in a long-running conflict. The statement came after fighting between the Ukrainian army and separatists intensified in recent weeks and Russia massed troops on the border. "The liberation of the temporarily occupied territories by force will inevitably lead to the death of a large number of civilians and casualties among the military, which is unacceptable for Ukraine," Ruslan Khomchak, chief of the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said in a statement. He accused Moscow of using "intimidation and blackmail by military force" to exacerbate the situation.

"Ukraine is supported by the entire civilised world. We are not alone in the face of the enemy," Khomchak added. (ANSA-AFP).

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