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Ukraine President Ends Unilateral Cease-Fire

  • VOA News

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko says he will not renew a 10-day unilateral cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, vowing instead to mount new attacks on pro-Russian rebels that he says "will liberate our land."

Poroshenko -- in a website statement early Tuesday -- said his decision was "a response to terrorists, rebels, looters," and all those he said are "paralyzing the economy of the region."

A short while later, he delivered the same message in a nationally televised address, as Kyiv's Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted separatists in the eastern city of Kramatorsk as saying combat has resumed.

The fragile truce, which expired Monday night, was touted as a chance for separatists to disarm and to start broader negotiations aimed at an amnesty and new regional elections. But rebels did not disarm, and the Kyiv government cited numerous instances of cease-fire violations since its June 20 declaration.

Poroshenko already had extended the cease-fire from seven to 10 days, as part of a push to end fighting near the Russian border that has killed more than 400 people since April.

The Ukraine leader's decision followed four-way talks on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Holland.

An earlier statement from French President Francois Holland's office said all four leaders voiced support for a third round of talks between Ukrainian government representatives and separatist leaders. The earlier rounds of talks between the two sides were held in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

The four-way phone call took place as deadlines on both the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and for Russia to avoid new EU sanctions were to expire late Monday.

The European Union is threatening more penalties against Russia if it does not use its influence on the separatists to convince them to cease their armed rebellion.

Despite the ceasefire, fighting has continued in eastern Ukraine, where separatists have seized areas and clashed with Ukrainian forces for the past few months.

A Russian state-owned television station said Monday one of its cameramen was killed overnight while reporting in Donetsk.

An official with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday that the number of international observers in eastern Ukraine cannot be increased unless the security situation improves.

Alexander Hug, the OSCE’s deputy chief of monitors in Ukraine, said weapons and checkpoints must “disappear” to allow observers freedom of movement.

Pro-Russian rebels freed four OSCE monitors Saturday, a month after they were abducted in the region of Luhansk.

Four others seized in the neighboring Donetsk region were let go earlier in the week. OSCE officials say all are in good health.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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