Ukraine: Ceasefire extended until June 30
Ukraine’s forces and pro-Russian militants in the east have agreed to extend their week-long ceasefire by 72 hours.
President Petro Poroshenko is hoping for progress on his peace plan.
The announcement came hours after Petro Poroshenko had signed a landmark EU trade pact – the issue that has been the trigger of the recent crisis.
The deadline for the ceasefire to expire was Friday at 22:00.
Separatists in the east held talks on Friday 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).
The leader of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” in the east, Alexander Borodai, said the new truce would be observed until June 30.
Petro Poroshenko met officials to discuss the truce after returning from Brussels.
A statement was later posted on the Ukrainian presidential website confirming the truce until 22:00 on Monday.
The statement pointed to a policy statement on Ukraine, issued by the European Council on Friday which set out key steps it expected to happen by Monday.
They include the return of three key checkpoints to Ukrainian forces and the “launch of substantial negotiations on the implementation of President Poroshenko’s peace plan”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said he would welcome an extension, but not if it were simply an ultimatum for separatists to lay down their arms.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted on a long-term ceasefire to allow for negotiations between the Ukrainian government and separatists, urging Petro Poroshenko to embark on a “path of peace, dialogue and accord”.
Petro Poroshenko set out a 15-point peace plan on 20 June. It involves decentralizing power and holding early local and parliamentary elections.
It also proposes the creation of a six-mile buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and a safe corridor for pro-Russian separatists to leave the conflict areas.
Fighting is said to have continued in some areas of eastern Ukraine despite the ceasefire.
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