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Friday 19th September 2014
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Ukraine Rebels Show Off Captives In Parade

Sunday, 24th August 2014 09:03

Pro-Russian separatists marched Ukrainian prisoners through Donetsk in mockery of the country's Independence Day celebrations.

The rebels also displayed wreckage of Ukrainian military vehicles on a day the country had hoped to send a defiant message to the insurgents and Moscow.

A military parade was held in Kiev to mark the country's 23-year independence from the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told a crowd of thousands the country would face a military threat "for the foreseeable future".

He also pledged $3bn (£1.8bn) to re-equip his nation's forces.

"It is clear that in the foreseeable future, unfortunately, a constant military threat will hang over Ukraine," he said.

"And we need to learn not only to live with this, but also to be always prepared to defend the independence of our country."

But the march in Kiev was ridiculed by the rebels in their stronghold of Donetsk.

They paraded dozens of captured Ukrainian soldiers in front of a jeering crowd that shouted "fascists" and "get on your knees" at the dishevelled group.

The captives were followed by dustcarts to "clean" where they had walked.

It came as fighting continued to rage in eastern Ukraine between government troops and separatist fighters.

An artillery attack in the town of Kirovske killed five civilians, three of whom were attending a religious service in a church.

Earlier, shelling struck a hospital building in Donetsk.

Stunned patients, being treated in nearby buildings, looked on as separatist fighters inspected the scene.

Rocket attacks on Donetsk have become common as government forces seek to drive out the rebels, causing several hundred thousand civilians to flee.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Kiev on Saturday and pushed for a new ceasefire in crisis talks with Mr Poroshenko.

During her trip, Ms Merkel called for a "bilateral ceasefire and effective border controls" to help stop four months of fighting in Ukraine.

Her visit came ahead of crucial talks on Tuesday between Mr Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside top EU officials.

Tensions surged on Friday when Russia sent a convoy of trucks it said was carrying aid to the rebel-held city Luhansk in an unauthorised move Kiev described as a "direct invasion".

The West sharply rebuked Russia over the convoy, which left on Saturday, with Washington describing it as a "dangerous escalation".