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News, June 2014
Poroshenko Warns of Detailed Plan B If Ukraine Ceasefire Fails, Gets Limited Support from Putin
June 22, 2014
Poroshenko warns of ‘detailed Plan B’ if Ukraine ceasefire fails
Russia TV, June 22, 2014 03:43
If his current proposal for a truce, which came into force on Friday, fails to bring results, Ukraine’s newly elected president Petro Poroshenko warns he has an alternative “detailed plan” of regaining control over south-eastern Ukraine.
“Peaceful scenario – it is our plan A,” Poroshenko said in a statement on his website. “But those who expect to use the peace talks only to gain time to regroup, should know that we have a detailed plan B. I am not going to talk about it now, because I believe that our peace plan will work.”
The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine took effect on June 20 and will last until June 27, the day Kiev plans to sign the EU Association agreement.
However, “the military will be given the right to return fire if Ukrainian army units or peaceful civilians are attacked,” Poroshenko said in his decree. Since then, the tensions have slightly eased in some areas, but the Ukrainian army is still using artillery and the air force in sporadic clashes with anti-Kiev militias.
Poroshenko claims the ceasefire is designed to enable local self-defence militias to lay down their arms and flee the country, or be destroyed. He also, while drafting the plan with Kiev-appointed governors of the defiant regions, rejected any possibility of negotiations with representatives of anti-Kiev forces.
While welcoming Kiev’s ceasefire efforts, the Russian president said the current peace plan on the table “should not take the form of an ultimatum to militia groups,” according to the Kremlin statement. It’s not enough to just put hostilities on pause, but vital to immediately start “constructive negotiations” to reach a viable compromise between the parties to the conflict.
“Russia notes that the proposed plan will not be viable or realistic if no practical steps are taken to commence the negotiation process,” the statement reads, shedding doubt that it would work as “the confrontation continues and shells from the Ukrainian side land and explode on the Russian territory.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that most clauses of President Poroshenko's peace plan look more like an ultimatum to the militias in Donetsk and Lugansk regions rather than an invitation to dialogue.
“The plan lacks the key thing – a proposal to start dialogue. This is a drastic departure from the Geneva statement of April 17 which is still supported by all of our Western partners, the United States, the European Union and the Ukrainian authorities or at least they say so,” Lavrov said, reports Itar-Tass.
Lavrov once again highlighted that Moscow is alarmed that Kiev continues the shelling, which now impact Russian border crossings with Ukraine.
“We are very much alarmed and worried by the fact that simultaneously with the announcement of the peace plan, a military operation was stepped up, which resulted in people wounded on the Russian side,” he said.
Poroshenko's Ukraine peace plan gets limited support from Putin
By Lidia Kelly and Richard Balmforth
Saturday, June 21, 2014, 4:03pm EDT
Russia's Vladimir Putin on Saturday voiced limited support for Ukraine's unilateral ceasefire in its conflict with pro-Russian separatists, but told President Petro Poroshenko there had to be talks with the rebels to prevent the truce collapsing.
The Kremlin set out Putin's view after overnight fighting in Ukraine's east in which pro-Russian separatists, according to Ukrainian government forces, attacked military bases and customs posts within hours of the ceasefire coming into force on Friday night.
While welcoming Poroshenko's truce, the Kremlin said Putin believed his peace plan should not be an "ultimatum" to the rebels and warned the ceasefire would not be "viable and realistic" unless there were practical moves to start talks between the opposing sides.
Poroshenko, who has unveiled a 15-point peace plan to end the insurgency in the east, has met regional leaders and offered to respect the use of the Russian language in the east but has refused to enter into direct dialogue with separatist leaders.
"The opportunity which the ceasefire opens up should be used to start meaningful negotiations and political compromise between the opposing sides in eastern Ukraine," the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying.
In an apparently conciliatory gesture, he called on "all parties to the conflict to cease fire and sit down at the negotiation table".
Poroshenko is gearing up for a diplomatic push to sell his plan but, with relations with Moscow at rock bottom and Kiev accusing Russia of fomenting the unrest, his biggest challenge will be to win over Putin.
The week-long ceasefire announced by Poroshenko came under pressure overnight when separatists attacked Ukrainian posts on the border with Russia and a military base and tried to storm an air force base, government forces said.
BORDER POSTS ATTACKED
A government forces spokesman said the separatists used mortars and sniper fire to attack Ukrainian posts at Izvareno and Uspenka on the border, wounding nine Ukrainian officers.
Rebels with large-calibre machineguns and grenade-launchers also attacked a Ukrainian position at Avdiyivka, near the main regional town of Donetsk, and a Ukrainian post at Kreminna.
Separatists controlling Slaviansk also attacked Ukrainian forces on Karachun hill overlooking the town with mortars and grenade-launchers, the spokesman, Vladyslav Seleznyov, said.
"In all these episodes, the attacks of the (rebel) fighters were deflected" without loss, Seleznyov said.
Poroshenko announced the week-long ceasefire on Friday night, urging the rebels to lay down their arms and warning that Ukrainian forces would hit back if attacked.
Ukrainian forces also repelled two attacks by around 50 heavily-armed fighters in the early morning on an air defence base at Avdiyivka, which houses surface-to-air missiles, the defence ministry said. No Ukrainian personnel were hurt.
The rebels, who have seized strategic points in major towns including Donetsk and set up "people's republics", saying they want to join Russia, insisted Ukraine had broken its own ceasefire.
Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, told a news conference the ceasefire was not working and appealed to Russia to send in peacekeeping forces.
"Since last evening, combat activities are continuing. Poroshenko's artillery is bombing Slaviansk and the air force has made several raids. Words about a ceasefire as always were just that - words," Borodai said.
"The anti-terrorist operation against the people of the Donbass is in full swing," he said.
Pavel Gubarev, a prominent rebel leader, told Rossiya-24 TV channel that either Ukrainian troops were not obeying orders or Poroshenko "is lying", adding: "There is no ceasefire at all."
The insurgency in the Russian-speaking east erupted in April after street protests in the capital Kiev toppled the Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovich. Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
Poroshenko has offered an amnesty to separatists who disarm voluntarily as well as corridors to allow fighters from Russia or pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists to leave safely for Russia.
Ukraine, meanwhile, expressed concern on Saturday about an increase in Russian movements near the border.
"The continuing concentration of Russian armed forces and their heightened activity near the border with Ukraine causes special concern against a background of numerous facts that confirm weapons and military equipment are being supplied to the terrorists," Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In Donetsk about 100 troops of the self-styled separatist Donetsk People's Republic took an oath of an allegiance, in apparent defiance of Poroshenko's peace plan.
In a ceremony on the town's Lenin Square, armed fighters, some wearing masks, pledged they would "defend the Donetsk People's Republic to the last drop of blood".
"We swear, we swear, we swear," they chanted in unison.
Alexei, a miner, said he decided to take up arms last week: "I am 43. I have children. I had a job but I dropped everything to defend the homeland."
A number of women, many in tears, rushed to hug troops and give them flowers. "A great day, a great day, we love our army. They will protect us from fascists," said Nastya, 32, holding hands with a masked soldier.
Across the square, far from the crowd, Mykola, a 23-year-old student from Donetsk, said he despised the rebels.
"They are stupid and short-sighted and brainwashed by Moscow's propaganda and common people will continue to suffer." He refused to give his full name, saying he feared reprisals for his pro-Ukrainian position.
(Additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Lina Kushch in Donetsk, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Writing by Richard Balmforth Editing by Andrew Roche)
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