Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have announced that they will observe a ceasefire until Friday morning, responding to the Ukrainian forces’ unilateral ceasefire.
The rebel announcement was made in Donetsk by Alexander Borodai, a leader of the self-styled “Donetsk People’s Republic” which is defying Kiev.
On June 20, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 15-point peace plan and declared a week-long truce.
Alexander Borodai was speaking after attending preliminary peace talks in Donetsk.
The high-level talks also involved representatives of the other breakaway region – Luhansk – and Viktor Medvedchuk, an opponent of the Kiev authorities who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov was also there, along with former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who is seen as a mediator for President Poroshenko. European mediators from the OSCE security organization also participated.
Last week President Putin cautiously welcomed the Kiev ceasefire. The plan involves decentralizing power, holding early elections, and creating a 6-mile buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border.
The rebels say they will not disarm until Ukrainian government troops have left the east. The militants still control key government buildings across Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“The ceasefire will take effect as announced earlier – until 10:00 on June 27,” Alexander Borodai said, referring to President Poroshenko’s declaration on Friday.
“During that time there will be ceasefire monitoring by Russia and the OSCE.
“We hope that during the ceasefire both sides will manage to reach agreement and start consultations on how to proceed with talks and a peace settlement.”