News / Europe

Kremlin Questions Ukraine Cease-Fire

  • Pro-Russian troops prepare to travel in a tank on a road near the town of Yanakiyevo, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014.
  • People carry their belongings as they walk to cross the border into Russia at the Ukrainian-Russian border checkpoint in Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014.
  • A man examines a destroyed building after fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian fighters in the city of Artyomovsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian fighters wave a white flag to start a handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops killed in a plane shot down near Luhansk, at a check point in the village of Karlivka near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian fighters wait for representatives of the Ukrainian troops at a checkpoint in the village of Karlivka for the handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops who died in a plane shot down near Luhansk, Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a check-point as a car drives past outside Luhansk, Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
  • Miners, one of them carrying a sign with the name of the mine Trudovskaya, march in support of peace in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, June 18, 2014.
  • Residents collect water at a pumping station in the eastern Ukranian city of Slovyansk, June 17, 2014.
  • A woman walks past portraits of protesters who were killed in clashes with police in February in Independence Square in Kyiv, June 18, 2014.
  • People take part in a rally to press demands for parliament to be dissolved and early elections outside the assembly in Kyiv, June 17, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian fighters walk past remnants of a downed Ukrainian army aircraft Il-76 at the airport near Luhansk, Ukraine, June 14, 2014.
Developments in Ukraine
VOA News
Ukrainian government forces on Friday announced a week-long cease-fire in their fight against pro-Russian separatists in the country's east, the interior ministry said.

The ministry's website said the cease-fire would continue until June 27. It quoted President Petro Poroshenkoas saying that the order did not mean Ukrainian forces would not fight back if attacked.

Ukraine’s new president called it a first step in a peace plan designed to end the deadly pro-Russian insurgency. The Ukrainian government publicized some of the plan's provisions on Friday, ahead of the official announcement.

The plan calls for a unilateral cease-fire that would give rebels a chance to disarm or leave the country. It also includes establishing a corridor allowing separatist fighters to leave Ukraine for Russia, the creation of a 10-kilometer buffer zone along the Ukrainian-Russian border, decentralization of power in the country and protecting the use of the Russian language.

Poroshenko emphasized the need for effective border control and the release of hostages seized by the rebels.

According to Valeriy Chaly, deputy head of the presidential administration, the plan also calls for early local and parliamentary elections.

Addressing reporters in Kyiv, Chaly called the plan dynamic and subject to change, explaining that is also includes a $1.5 billion development and jobs provision that he described as “absolutely necessary” to addressing the high unemployment that has been cited as a primary reason for conflict.

Chaly said the plan has received support from international organizations, including the European Union and United Nations, and that major international allies such as the United States have been informed of its provisions and schedule.

The Ukrainian president discussed details of the plan on the phone Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the French news agency AFP, Poroshenko sought to shore up the Kremlin’s support for a truce in the fighting.   

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Friday quoted Valery Bolotov, a separatist leader who heads the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic, as saying the rebels would not disarm until government forces completely withdrew from eastern Ukraine.

The government said fresh clashes erupted in eastern Ukraine Friday after seven soldiers were killed in fighting late Thursday. According to press reports and a video posted to the Internet, a pro-Russian separatist armored column made up of several tanks and armored personnel carriers was seen moving in the Donetsk region.

Russian reaction, troop buildup

According to a Reuters news report, the Kremlin released a statement vowing to review Poroshenko's plan. However, the statement was critical of the week-long cease-fire.

"This is not an invitation to peace and negotiations but an ultimatum to militias in the southeast of Ukraine to lay down their arms," the Kremlin statement said. "So far one major element is missing — a proposal to start negotiations.''

A seperate statement released by Russia's foreign ministry cited an attack at a Novoshakhtinsk border checkpoint that injured a customs officer, calling it a "direct provocation," Reuters reported.

While Putin has reportedly reacted favorably to Poroshenko's cease-fire proposal, Ukrainian and Western officials say Moscow has resumed its troop build-up on the border.

Deputy White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said Friday that the United States is concerned about the buildup of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine.

His comment came a day after NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said "at least a few thousand more" Russian troops had been deployed to the border region, a moved he called a "very regrettable step backwards."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a deployment of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border had been planned in advance and was designed to reinforce Russia's border security.

A NATO military officer who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity told VOA, "These troops don't appear to be engaged in border-patrol duties. Rather, they appear to be concentrating in staging areas and preparing and awaiting future orders."

Earlier in the conflict, up to 40,000 Russian troops had been deployed near the border with Ukraine.

Signing date set for EU agreement

Poroshenko announced Thursday that he would sign an association agreement with the European Union on June 27. 

The refusal by Ukraine's former pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, to sign the EU association agreement last November triggered the unrest that led to his ouster earlier this year.

Anita Powell contributed to this story from Kyiv. Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: uduak udom from: akwa ibom nigeria
June 21, 2014 3:04 PM
The seperatists fully know that one on one they are no match for pro govt forces. Moscow is backing themm

by: Cayman
June 21, 2014 2:37 PM
Ukraine cease-fire really looks like an ultimatum!
They left no chance for the pro-Russian people to express their opinion except die for it!
Poroshenko does not want to hear that people!
And why if the cease-fire order starts there is much more Refugees crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border? And now even the border become a place of fighting? Or the Ukrainian army does not follow Poroshenko's orders?

by: Lion from: Chicago
June 21, 2014 2:30 AM
Putin is the most dangerous terrorist in the world! We must set free the World of this dictator who is trying to eliminate Ukrainians! We have all leverages in our arm and more severe sanctions must be imposed on Russia!

by: Hewadmal from: AFghanistan
June 21, 2014 12:07 AM
The subject of Kiev is completely similar to the Durand issue in Afghanistan, Kiev has annexed to Russia, but Durand line is still ignored.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta Nigeria
June 20, 2014 10:40 AM
Putin will get his buffer zone but its not going to be a 10km zone but the whole of the eastern Ukraine until he is challenged .

by: meanbill from: USA
June 20, 2014 9:24 AM
AN UNDENIABLE FACT; -- Poroshenko's always offers the same old rehashed peace plan, "It demands the Pro-Russian separatist to disarm, before any ceasefire or negotiations begin" -- (AND?) -- if they turned their weapons over to the Right Sector Kiev government -- (in my opinion?) -- they'd be slaughtered like cattle, like the NAZIS did to the Russians in WW2 Ukraine, wouldn't they?

MY OPINION? -- If the pro-Russian separatists would have trusted Hitler making this same peace plan, (then), you'd trust Poroshenko and his peace plan.. .... REALLY?
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
June 20, 2014 10:35 PM
Great idea! It is the matter of trust. No one can forget the Odessa's massacre. If people in the East lay down their arms, they will be hunted and killed like rabbits. So the best idea is that Russia will send thousands of advanced peace-keeping troops to Eastern Ukraine to monitor the sincerity of those in Kiev.

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