Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced today on the presidential website that he was dissolving parliament and called for fresh elections on Oct. 26.
Poroshenko said the move was in accordance with the country’s constitution, noting that Ukraine‘s coalition government collapsed July 24.
He said many lawmakers in Parliament were allied with ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, and that some were “direct sponsors or accomplices” of pro-Russia separatist militants in the country’s east.
Poroshenko’s move comes ahead of a planned summit Tuesday in Belarus that includes him and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Kiev has accused Russia of helping separatists fighting against government troops in eastern Ukraine. Relations between the two countries have suffered since Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March.
The Ukrainian military today said Russian troops wearing the insignia of separatist fighters from eastern Ukraine crossed into their territory with tanks and armored personnel carriers. NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is in the nearby city of Donetsk, told our Newscast unit that Ukrainian officials accused the Kremlin of trying to open a new front in Ukraine’s civil war.
Here’s more from Soraya:
“In Kiev, officials say Ukrainian forces have stopped the Russian troops and their dozen armored vehicles outside a town on the most south-easterly point on the Azov Sea. Ukraine said the forces’ aim was likely to take control of the nearby port city of Mariupol.
“Heavy fighting was reported in the area.
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disavowed any knowledge of the column and accused the Kiev government of spreading disinformation.
“The latest accusations are likely to dampen talks scheduled between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents in Minsk on Tuesday.”