Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called on Ukraine to immediately start talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Hours later, Ukraine said a border guard vessel operating in the Azov Sea was attacked by land-based forces. Pro-Russian rebels have recently opened a new offensive along the seacoast.
Putin's comment, made to national TV network Channel 1, said Ukraine should "hold substantive, meaningful talks, not about technical issues but about the question of the political organization of society and statehood in southeast Ukraine, with the goal of safeguarding the legitimate interests of those people who live there."
On Sunday, a spokesman for Ukraine's offensive against Russia-backed rebels said a border guard vessel has been fired on with artillery — apparently the first incident at sea in the fighting. The spokesman, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said the attack occurred Sunday afternoon but he had no further information, including how many people were aboard the boat. The attack took place amid heightened concern that the rebels are trying to seize a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in March.
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- The Associated Press