Hague offers assurance to Ukraine over Britain’s ‘practical help’

William Hague has attempted to reassure Ukraine that 
Britain is offering “practical help” to deal with the raging crisis as he begins a tour of former Soviet states.

The Foreign Secretary has arrived in Moldova for the first leg of the “show of support” trip that takes in Georgia as well as Ukraine.

It comes after days of intense violence, with dozens killed in the southern port city of Odessa and gun battles in the eastern flashpoint of Slovyansk that have killed four soldiers.

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Pro-Russian insurgents in Slovyansk have now pulled back after Kiev launched the concerted “anti-terrorist operation” to combat the rebel forces.

Mr Hague said: “Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia have all made great efforts to build free societies and they deserve our backing. In each case, they need to carry out substantial reforms to ensure the rule of law and 
sustainable economic development, especially in tackling corruption.

“Clearly Ukraine is under immense pressure from Russian attempts to destabilise the country, provoke violence and, it seems, prevent elections happening later this month.”

Meanwhile, four troops were killed and 30 wounded yesterday in gun battles with pro-Russia militants occupying Slovyansk, according to Ukraine’s interior ministry.

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Slovyansk has been at the heart of the uprising in east Ukraine against the central government in Kiev, which came to power after the country’s Russia-leaning president fled following months of street protests.

A statement on the ministry’s website did not give further details about how the officers died.