Leaders Set to Discuss Ukraine Peace Plan as Fighting Continues
Deadly fighting continued Wednesday in eastern Ukraine, as the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany prepared to hold a summit on the conflict that has killed more than 5,300 people since last April.
At least two people died in the rebel-held eastern city of Donetsk when a shell hit a bus station, according to rebel officials and emergency personnel. Military officials also said rebel attacks near Debaltseve had killed at least 19 soldiers and wounded 78 others.
Ahead of Wednesday's talks in Belarus, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine and the European Union would speak "with one voice." He earlier described the four-nation summit as one of the last chances to end the fighting between his country's forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Mr. Poroshenko said Wednesday he would not hesitate to introduce marital law throughout the country if the conflict escalates.
The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and urged him to support a peace deal for Ukraine.
US, Britain, France Close Yemen Embassies Due to Unrest
The United States, Britain and France announced the closure of their embassies in Yemen because of deteriorating security conditions in the country.
The U.S. State Department said late Tuesday that its embassy staff had been moved out of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, while Britain announced early Wednesday that its staff had been withdrawn. France will close its embassy on Friday.
"Recent unilateral actions disrupted the political transition process in Yemen, creating the risk that renewed violence would threaten Yemenis and the diplomatic community in Sana’a," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis who continue to work toward a peaceful, prosperous, and unified Yemen. We will explore options for a return to Sana’a when the situation on the ground improves."
The U.S., Britain and France all advised citizens not to travel to Yemen, and for those already in the country to leave.
Yemen has been mired in political turmoil for months. Last month, Houthi Shi'ite rebels took over the residence of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, prompting him and his Cabinet to resign. The rebels finalized their takeover of the country last Friday, announcing they have dissolved parliament and are establishing a new presidential council to run Yemeni affairs.