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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora