News / Europe

Anger, Threats in Ukraine’s Capital Over Ceasefire Proposal

FILE - A Ukrainian soldier stands guard near a tank position close to the Russian border near Kharkiv.
FILE - A Ukrainian soldier stands guard near a tank position close to the Russian border near Kharkiv.
Anita Powell
Separatists in Ukraine's restive east have rejected the government's offer of a unilateral ceasefire, and angry citizens in the streets of Kyiv have also given the idea a thumbs down. Many in the capital say they didn't stand for weeks in the bitter cold earlier this year to topple the former, Russia-friendly president - only for their new president to pander to Russian aggression.

While Petro Poroshenko's peace plan has won the approval of France and Germany, it puts him in the dangerous position of alienating his support base not even two weeks after his inauguration – and this, in a nation with a history of ousting unpopular leaders.

No one was surprised when pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine, known for their brutal guerrilla tactics, immediately rejected the new president’s offer of a unilateral ceasefire in return for the rebels putting down their arms or leaving the country. Such a deal, President Poroshenko said, would bring an end to the conflict that has ravaged eastern Ukraine since the country's pro-Russian president was toppled in February following mass anti-government protests during which more than a hundred demonstrators were killed by security forces.
 
But in Ukraine’s capital, which has seen peaceful demonstrations nearly every day for the past three months, some of protesters say they’re angry over what they see as a haphazard prosecution of the military campaign against the separatists and the new president’s willingness to lay down arms.
 
As Kyiv’s new city council prepared to hold its first session Thursday, a top city official was loudly harangued in the foyer by residents over the poor state of preparedness of Ukrainian troops. A group of wives and mothers in Kyiv say they want their men brought home immediately because they’re outgunned and unprepared.
 
One woman, clearly upset, said her son told her that he and his comrades had no ammunition and would not survive another night. He implored her to do something to help.

The official, Volodymyr Bondarenko, seen as the government’s representative on the city council, acknowledged that what the young men in uniform are being subjected to is a “crime.” As he said that he would demand changes, people surrounding him made him swear on his words. He did.
 
The woman, Irina Labun, said she also had another son deployed in eastern Ukraine.

“There is no ceasing fire,” she said. “We have only a ceasefire from one side - our side. Our boys don’t have the right to shoot. And the militants are shooting at them.”
 
Maidan rumbling again

Meanwhile, in the Maidan, Kyiv’s main square that was the epicenter of months of protests and where demonstrators continue to gather, the ceasefire was equally unpopular.

A man, who gave his name as Taras, said that stopping the “anti-terrorist” operation, as the government refers to its military campaign against separatists in the country’s east, was a bad idea. You don’t negotiate with terrorists, he said.
 
Another protester, who gave his name only as Ali, hinted at trouble for Poroshenko. With his camouflage uniform, bandit-style headscarf, full beard and guerrilla sunglasses, he was among the legions of Ukrainian “self-defense forces” in the capital who protected protesters against riot police.
 
If Poroshenko goes against us, he said, we will move against him.
 
Another Maidan protester, Vladimir, who said he served as a young Soviet soldier in Afghanistan, said that he was all too familiar with cycles of instability and conflict.

He said he understands the humanitarian reasons for declaring a ceasefire. But, he added that his military experience from more than a quarter century ago makes him cynical about the unilateral initiative.
 
In theory, he said, the president is doing the right thing by the international community and the people.

“But from a military perspective - we fought in Afghanistan, we know what war is and we know how it happens - this time will be used for regrouping, and it will be much harder to free this territory,” he said.
 
At his inauguration on June 7, Poroshenko promised he would end the conflict in the east within a week.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have come out in support of his ceasefire idea, and have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept the offer.
 
But judging by the reactions of Poroshenko’s base in Kyiv, he is now fighting on more than one front, with a political fight brewing over his handling of the conflict.
 
And in a nation that has demonstrated more than once that, if united behind a common cause, it can bring more than a million people into the streets, this may prove a daunting challenge indeed.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs