Ahead of Ukrainian Independence Day, President Poroshenko makes one of his gloomiest predictions on the prospects for peace and warns of a possible escalation in fighting. Gavino Garay reports.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned his troops in Kharkiv of a possible escalation of fighting in the east -- ahead of Ukrainian Independence Day which falls on Monday. He said pressure from Russia may be heating up and that the need for military readiness may last years. It was one of his gloomiest predictions yet on prospects for peace in his country. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "The time of ill-considered pacifism and short-sighted neglect of the defense issues have now receded into the past." Poroshenko's remarks - made at a military rally to hand over new weapons and equipment to the army -- come two days before his meeting with German and French leaders in Berlin. He called for the summit in a bid to urge western leaders to put pressure on Russia to comply with a strained six-month-old peace plan brokered in Minks. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "The Minsk agreements - no matter how they have been criticized - have given us a chance, have given us time, to strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities." Western governments say there is irrefutable evidence that Russia has been involved in supporting the separatists, but Moscow continues to deny that claim. Despite the fragile ceasefire, the country faces sporadic clashes and shelling from what Poroshenko calls a "Russian offensive" - including a recent upsurge in fighting in the east and south-east. Ukrainian authorities have mobilised huge numbers of police and interior ministry troops to reinforce security for independence celebrations. Poroshenko says the military call-up and mobilisation would also continue.