Putin welcomes Kiev’s ceasefire, calls for urgent dialogue with east
Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the ceasefire announced by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. However, for the plan to become “realistic,” Putin said both sides of the Ukrainian conflict must stop the fighting and sit down for talks.
Putin “supports” Poroshenko’s decision for a “cease fire in the south-eastern Ukraine, and his pronounced intention to take some concrete steps for achieving peaceful settlement,” a statement published on the Kremlin website said on Saturday.
With that, the Russian President notes the 15-point peace plan suggested by Poroshenko on Friday “will not be viable and realistic… without practical actions aimed at the start of the negotiations process.”
Putin called on both Kiev and anti-government forces to “halt any battle actions and sit down at the negotiating table.”
He also noted that the Friday incident, when a Russian checkpoint came under fire from the Ukrainian side after the ceasefire was announced was “unacceptable.”
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The Russian leader urged Poroshenko to use the opportunity for reaching “political compromises” with eastern Ukrainians, adding that the peace plan “should not be an ultimatum by nature.”
Earlier on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is concerned that the announcement of the peace plan for eastern Ukraine has coincided with Kiev ramping up its military activities in the region.
The fact that Poroshenko’s plan does not include negotiations is a “radical deviation” from the Geneva agreements on Ukraine, Lavrov added.
“Everyone will be watching the Western sponsors of the Kiev authorities, who took responsibility for the coup and for the preparation of the presidential elections that followed. Now this responsibility should probably be realized in some concrete steps, which will bring the situation back to the framework of the Geneva April 17 manifest and will allow for equitable dialog on constitutional reform and on resolving the crisis in general to be started with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine,” Lavrov said.
Poroshenko on Friday rolled out a 15-point peace plan and said
that Kiev will halt its offensive for a week, during which the
Ukrainian troops will open fire only if they come under attack.
He warned, however, that the ceasefire must be used by the
anti-government activists as an opportunity to disarm,
threatening that those who do not comply “will be
The peace plan offered amnesty and safe passage for the anti-Kiev fighters who “have not committed grave crimes” and promised “steps for decentralization of power” in the region, including the amendment of the Constitution. It also suggested a 10-kilometer "buffer zone” on the Russian-Ukrainian border to be created, which would be “jointly patrolled.”
The self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics responded by saying they will not lay down arms unless the Ukrainian forces leave the region.