Shelling stops and calm restored in Ukrainian town battered by fighting

  • Fighting has stopped in the government-held town of Avdiivka after week of violence.

  • Lull comes after US president Donald Trump committed to peace in Europe.

Trump and May discuss Russian sanctions in joint press conferenceReuters

Fighting has stopped in a government-held town in Ukraine after a week of violence came to a head on Sunday (5 January). Aid agencies warned a "humanitarian disaster" could unfold in eastern Ukraine as attacks continued by government loyalists and Russian separatists.

The most fierce fighting was seen in Avdiivka, a town that lies a few kilometres from the separatist-held city of Donetsk and where a total of 27 people have died. Eight more were killed in other parts of the war zone, AFP reported, which covers Donetsk and Lugansk.

Early reports on Sunday suggested an impasse had been reached after 24 hours went by without any killings.

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Ukrainian military spokesman Sergiy Klymenko told AFP that the pause was agreed by the two sides and came into effect from 8am (6am GMT).

The calm came after Alexander Hug, deputy head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said there were uneasy conditions."We have had many flare-ups before and yet somehow the sides have pulled back, reverting to an uneasy, often violent static confrontational stance," he said.

"We have had many flare-ups before and yet somehow the sides have pulled back, reverting to an uneasy, often violent static confrontational stance," he said.

Trouble flaring forced President Trump to show his hand on European relations and that between the US Russia.

"We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border," the White House quoted Trump as saying.

Ukraine is watching to see how Trump will engage with Russia's President Vladimir Putin while Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has already claimed the American has pledged "firm support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Across the Atlantic in an interview with Fox News over the weekend, Trump insisted that his "respect" for Putin would not influence foreign policy decisions.

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"I do respect him, but I respect a lot of people," he said. "That doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him."

When host Bill O'Reilly said "But, [Putin] is a killer," Trump replied. "We've got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country's so innocent?"

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