Ukraine: President Petro Poroshenko proposes unilateral ceasefire
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed a unilateral ceasefire by his troops to allow pro-Russian separatists to lay down their weapons.
Petro Poroshenko said the peace plan would be implemented “shortly”, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports.
His announcement comes after Petro Poroshenko held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They discussed a solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are battling government forces.
More than 30 gunmen were killed and wounded in fighting near the town of Schastya in the Luhansk region on Tuesday, a spokesman for the government’s “anti-terrorism operation” said.
UN human rights investigators say the security situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has deteriorated significantly over the past month.
A report reveals a rising number of abductions and killings, with civilians increasingly caught in the cross-fire and thousands forced to flee the violence.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said an explosion at a major pipeline in central Ukraine was caused by a bomb.
He said explosives had been placed under a concrete support at the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline.
No-one was reported injured by the blast. European and Russian companies said gas exports were not affected by Tuesday’s pipeline explosion.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the National University of Defense in Kiev, Petro Poroshenko said a “brief” truce would be introduced to allow “Russian mercenaries” to leave Ukraine.
The Kremlin confirmed that Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin “touched upon” the issue of a possible ceasefire during their talks on Tuesday.
Correspondents say Petro Poroshenko has made similar comments in the past but it is not clear when the ceasefire will be implemented.
“The peace plan begins with my order for a unilateral ceasefire,” Interfax-Ukraine quoted the president as saying on Wednesday.
“Immediately after that, we must receive support for the presidential peace plan from all sides involved. This should happen very shortly.”
He said Russia was waging “a new type of warfare” with the use of professional subversive groups and volunteers.
Russia says it has launched a criminal investigation into Ukraine’s interior minister and a local governor over the killings of civilians and journalists.
Arsen Avakov and Igor Kolomoisky, governor of Dnipropetrovsk, are accused of organizing military operations, including rocket strikes, in cities such as Donetsk, Sloviansk and Mariupol that left more than 100 dead, Russian state media said.
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