President Poroshenko calls for unilateral ceasefire in E. Ukraine
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced a ceasefire plan for government troops in the East of the country. The move comes after a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin which allegedly discussed a ceasefire.
As part of the proposed plan, Poroshenko is calling for all pro-federalization forces in the region to lay down their arms.
“The plan will begin with my order for a unilateral cease-fire,” he said, while refraining from mentioning when he would give the order. Poroshenko, who was elected president in a May 25 vote boycotted by many voters in eastern Ukraine, stressed that all parties involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine must adhere to the plan, Interfax news agency reported.
The president said that Ukraine would also close its border with Russia, as the Kiev government claims that pro-federalization forces are being sent reinforcements from neighboring Russia.
“There is a big risk that criminals may take advantage of the ceasefire,” Poroshenko said. He added that an amnesty would be offered to those who had not committed crimes against Ukraine during the ongoing conflict in the east of the country, while so-called “mercenaries” will be given the chance to leave the country.
Poroshenko’s government believes that most of the violence in eastern Ukraine has been caused by Russian mercenaries, something which Moscow categorically denies. The Russian government has condemned the deployment of Kiev’s punitive “anti-terrorist” operation in eastern Ukraine and urged the Ukrainian government to withdraw their troops on a number of occasions.
The call for a ceasefire follows a telephone call between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents that took place Tuesday. The Ukrainian government confirmed that a ceasefire had been discussed, as well as a number of measures to facilitate its implementation.
“The president held phone talks with the Russian president in the context of implementing the Ukrainian president’s peace plan, including in relation to the de-escalation of the situation in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” the Ukrainian statement said.
Last week, Russia told the Ukrainian government that negotiations between the two countries over the tumultuous East are impossible amid the “thunder of cannons and artillery fire.”
Russia has also called on Ukraine to address the “deliberate endangerment” of journalists in the region following the death of Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin on Tuesday.
According to UN calculations, at least 356 people have been killed in the regions of Lugansk and Donesk since Kiev’s “anti-terror” operation began. Since Kiev’s deployment of government troops, violence has escalated in the region, with daily reports of clashes between anti-government activists and soldiers.