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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid