'More than 50 killed' in Donetsk fighting

Pro-Russian rebels have said the death toll during two days of fighting in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk has now risen to 50. Ukraine's military launched a strike on rebels who had taken the international airport in the eastern city.

'At least one killed' in battle for Donetsk airport

A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires its cannons against rebels above the airport. Credit: Reuters

At least one person has been killed and two injured during an assault on Donetsk airport, local authorities have said.

There was no full account from either side of casualties. But the press service of the regional administration said one man had been killed and two injured from shrapnel of a shell which struck a part of the railway station serving the airport.

More: Ukraine's new leader aims for co-operation with Russia

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Ukrainian military 'launches strike on Donetsk airport'

Ukraine's military has launched an operation against rebels who have taken over the international airport in Donetsk, a security official has said.

Smoke rises from the international airport in Donetsk following clashes between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces. Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

A statement said paratroopers had landed at the airport following a strike by Ukrainian aircraft earlier.

The rebel gunmen are reported to have stormed the airport this morning in what may be a show of defiance following the Ukrainian presidential elections, which look likely to see victory for businessman Petro Poroshenko.

Read: New Ukraine president hopes for co-operation with Russia

Ukraine's new leader aims for co-operation with Russia

Petro  Poroshenko has said he will not recognise the annexation of Crimea.
Petro Poroshenko has said he will use all legal means to secure the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Credit: RTV

Ukraine's next president, Petro Poroshenko, says he hopes to meet Russia's leaders in the first half of June and said restoring stability in eastern regions of his country would require Moscow's involvement.

Armed pro-Russian separatists have taken control of some towns and cities in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine and they prevented many people in the region from taking part in Sunday's presidential election which exit polls show Poroshenko to have won.

"I hope Russia will support efforts to tackle the situation in the east (of Ukraine)," Poroshenko told a news conference.

He repeated his readiness to speak with separatists who laid down their weapons but added he would not meet "terrorists" who threatened the security of the state.

Russia 'ready for dialogue' with Ukraine president

Russia says it is ready for dialogue with Petro Poroshenko, who is on course to become Ukraine's president, but warned the Kiev authorities not to step up armed operations against separatists in the east.

Echoing remarks by President Vladimir Putin in the past few days, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said genuine dialogue between Kiev and the east - where pro-Russian separatists have rebelled against the national leadership - was the key to resolving Ukraine's crisis.

Read: Confectionary tycoon 'wins Ukraine election'

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Hague praises 'courage' of Ukrainian voters

Ukraine's presidential election is a "decisive signal of their support for reform", William Hague declared as he praised voters for defying disruption by pro-Russian separatists.

The Foreign Secretary said every vote cast was "an individual act of courage" as he pledged to work with the country's new leader on ambitious reforms.

William Hague congratulated Ukraine's voters after today's election. Credit: PA

Exit polls suggested a convincing win for billionaire chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko, who is said to have received 55.9% - with former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko a distant second.

Voting was severely disrupted in parts of the east of the country, where separatists have seized control amid fighting that has claimed at least 20 lives in recent days.

Poroshenko will never recognise 'Crimea occupation'

Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, set to be the new president after today's election, said he would never recognise Russia's "occupation of Crimea" and ruled out negotiating with separatists.

Petro Poroshenko took a hard line on Ukraine's relations with Russia. Credit: Reuters

Asked about relations with Russia, he said the "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Ukraine were paramount for him.

The confectionery tycoon also ruled out negotiations with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country until they put down their weapons.

Petro Poroshenko 'wins Ukraine election'

Tycoon Petro Poroshenko made his fortune in the chocolate industry. Credit: REUTERS/Mykola Lazarenko

Businessman Petro Poroshenko has won an outright first round victory in Ukraine's presidential election with 55.9 percent of the vote, exit polls have indicated.

The confectionery magnate, who is known as the "Chocolate King", was well ahead of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in second place with 12.9 percent in the poll.

Italian journalist killed in eastern Ukraine fighting

An Italian journalist and his Russian translator have been killed in fighting between pro-Russia forces and Ukrainian government troops in eastern Ukraine, the Italian Foreign Ministry said today.

The bodies of Andrea Rocchelli, a freelance photographer who worked with the Cesura photographers' collective, and his colleague, Andrey Mironov, were taken to a hospital in the town of Slaviansk.

Violence in eastern Ukraine is the backdrop to the country's presidential elections. Credit: REUTERS/Yannis Behraki

French freelance journalist William Roguelon, who had been travelling with the two men, said

the group came under fire on the outskirts of the eastern town on Saturday afternoon.

He said Rocchelli and Mironov were hit by mortar fire between rebels and Ukrainian troops while he had walked off looking for help.

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