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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
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 Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan 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 Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
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.

VOA Blogs