The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

June 21, 2014

Ukraine orders 1-week govt. cease-fire

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president ordered his forces to cease fire Friday and halt military operations for a week against pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east — the first step in a peace plan he hopes will end the fighting that has killed hundreds.

The Kremlin dismissed the plan, saying it sounded like an ultimatum and lacked any firm offer to open talks with insurgents.

Petro Poroshenko, making his first trip to the east as Ukraine’s president, said that the cease-fire will run until the morning of June 27 and that his troops reserve the right to fire back if separatists attack them or civilians.

“The Ukrainian army is ceasing fire,” he said in a statement. “But this does not mean that we will not resist. In case of aggression toward our troops, we will do everything to defend the territory of our state.”

Separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have declared independence from his government in Kiev, occupied public buildings and fought with heavy weapons against Ukrainian troops.

Rebel leaders have already dismissed Poroshenko’s plan, and it remains to be seen whether they will comply and how much pressure Russia will put on them to cease fire.

The Kremlin denies supporting the insurrection and has said that Russians fighting in Ukraine are doing so as private citizens.

Russia said in a statement that an initial analysis of Poroshenko’s plan shows that “it’s not an invitation for peace and talks, but an ultimatum” to insurgents in southeast Ukraine to lay down their weapons. It said the plan “lacks the main element — an offer to start talks.”

The Kremlin said Poroshenko’s government issued the peace plan “deliberately or accidentally” at roughly the same moment that Ukrainian forces fired into Russian territory, wounding a Russian customs officer. It said the Russian side was waiting for Ukrainian “explanations and excuses” over the attack.

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