[QODLink]
Europe

Ukraine president announces temporary truce

Petro Poroshenko orders halt of military operations against pro-Russian rebels for one week as part of a peace plan.

Last updated: 21 Jun 2014 01:34
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Ukrainian troops have ceased fire in a fight against pro-Russian separatists as a first step in efforts to de-escalate the conflict in the country's east, days after rebel leaders rejected a peace process.

Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine's president, announced a week-long truce on Friday, but said the army would fight back in case of a separatist attack.

"The forces of the anti-terrorist operation will halt military action starting today and through June 27," Poroshenko was cited as saying in comments published on the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's website.

Shortly after the annoucement, the Kremlin was quoted by the Russian news agencies as saying that the truce declaration sounded more like an ultimatum.

Poroshenko said the ceasefire would give separatists time to lay down their arms and leave the country, to be followed by talks, new local elections and a jobs programme.

Poroshenko discussed the details of his peace plan on the phone on Thursday with Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, and his office says he emphasised the need for introducing effective border controls and quickly releasing hostages seized by the rebels.

Rebel leaders have dismissed the plan and it remains to be seen to what extent they would comply.

Latest violence

Earlier in the day, seven Ukrainian troops were killed in overnight fighting in the restive east as clashes between government forces and pro-Russia rebels flared ahead of the ceasefire.

Vladislav Seleznev, spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the east, said 30 troops were injured in fighting near the village of Yampil in the Donetsk region.

Separatists were operating tanks in the region, a particular sore point for Ukraine, which accuses Russia of letting the vehicles and other heavy weaponry cross the border.

Putin has voiced concern about the Ukrainian military operation against the rebels but has resisted both the rebels' pleas to join Russia and repeated calls from Russian nationalists for Putin to send troops into Ukraine.

NATO reported on Thursday, however, that Russia was resuming a military build-up at the Ukrainian border.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said Russian officials were surprised at Western expressions of concern over the renewed troop build-up, saying it was merely a previously announced measure to tighten border controls.

"This is not a matter of some sort of concentration of forces, but of the strengthening of border controls of the Russian Federation," Peskov was quoted as saying by a Russian news agency, Itar-TASS.

Separately, Yuri Ushakov, Putin's foreign policy aide, said Putin was committed to dialogue on Ukraine and was planning to have a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama in the coming days.

426

Source:
Reuters And AP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.