Kiev’s pro-Western leaders hope to hold truce talks on Saturday with pro-Russian separatists despite the rebels vow to push there latest offensive in eastern Ukraine if the negotiations should fail. The urgent new rounds of negotiations in Minsk that had been agreed for Friday under pressure from European envoys was postponed due to disagreements over who should represent the rebel camp. Kiev said it expected to send it’s envoy, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, to Minsk on Saturday for the talks- formally backed by the Kremlin- aimed at reinforcing a tattered September truce. “We expect to sign a document that reinforces the Minsk Memorandum (of September) and the peace plan of Presidents Poroshenko and Putin,” Kuchma told the interfax-Ukraine news agency. “Our main goal is to ensure that the September agreement is implemented,” he told Ukrainian reporters earlier of the talks mediated by European and Russian envoys.
The insurgents last week pulled out of peace talks and announced the start of an offensive designed to expand their control over a much broader swathe of the industrial southeast. They also said Friday they would not halt their actions in restive areas if the talks failed. “Should the negotiations collapse, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic reserve the right to pursue their offensive until the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions are freed of Ukrainian troops,” the rebel region’s main negotiator said in a joint statement. The insurgents statement said the fighters were ready to pull back their heavy weapons from the front line as long as Ukrainian forces did the same. But they also stressed that the new border outlining rebel run region’s should run along the current front, giving them an area around 500 square kilometres greater than lines agreed in September.