Eastern Ukraine ceasefire extended until Monday
Both Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the self-proclaimed people’s republics in the country's southeast have agreed to prolong the ceasefire until the evening of June 30.
Poroshenko agreed to prolong the ceasefire until 10 p.m. local time on Monday, according to the presidential website.
Earlier on Friday, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Aleksandr Boroday, also promised to observe a ceasefire until June 30.
However, Boroday said he doubts Kiev will fulfill its promise. “We hope that the ceasefire will be more than [Kiev’s] blabbing,” he said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
The UN welcomes the extension of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and calls for an end to the violence in the region, the UN's press service quoted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying. Ban urged all parties to abide by their promises.
Anti-government activists will start negotiations with Kiev only after the latter withdraws its military, National Guard, and Right Sector squads from the territories of the self-proclaimed republics, Boroday said.
Self-defense forces held talks with mediators, including Ukraine's former President Leonid Kuchma, Moscow's ambassador in Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Friday.
Despite Kiev’s demands, the self-proclaimed republics won’t surrender control of the three checkpoints – Dolzhanskoe, Izvarino and Krasny Partisan – on Russia’s border, Itar-Tass quoted Boroday as saying.
OSCE MISSION AND CAPTIVES
Boroday also said that the self-proclaimed DPR is ready to invite OSCE observers to border territories and guarantee their safety.
We “invite OSCE observers, with the participation of Russia or not, to be present at these checkpoints, and, in fact, we’d like them to cover as many points in this armed conflict as they can," he said.
He added that the authorities of the self-proclaimed republics are making lists of these locations and are ready to “aid” the mission.
Overnight on Thursday, anti-government activists freed four OSCE observers out of the eight detained at the end of May. Among the freed were citizens of Switzerland, Estonia, Turkey, and Denmark.
Boroday stated that DPR authorities are set for the exchange of captives “all for all,” while adding that another group of four OSCE observers will be freed shortly.
“We are committed to [making] such lists on our part and expect that such lists will be presented by the opposite side,” Boroday said.
“We do not agree upon the term ‘hostages,’ we agree on the term ‘detained,’ ‘restrained’ or ‘prisoner of war.’ But we really agree that such an exchange must take place under the ‘all for all’ principle,” he said, adding that about 500 anti-government militias are being held captive by Kiev and all hostages must be freed.
Poroshenko also had talks with EU leaders in Brussels on Friday, where he discussed the possibility of extending the ceasefire. The week-long ceasefire was previosuly scheduled to end at 10 p.m. local time on Friday, after its 12-hour extension earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov warned on Friday that the Ukrainian army is set for “tough actions” after the end of the truce.
Last week, the Ukrainian leader presented a peace plan for the resolution of the conflict, which outlined 15 steps including a ceasefire. The ceasefire plan for government troops also called for all anti-Kiev forces in the region to lay down their weapons. Kiev added that as the ceasefire ends, those who failed to lay down their weapons in eastern Ukraine “will be destroyed.” Later, Poroshenko warned that he has a “detailed plan B” if the peaceful scenario fails to work.