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.
— Alex Bukovsky (@BungeeWedgie) June 21, 2014
“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.”
Speaking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Putin said he supported Poroshenko’s “intentions,” but added that the Ukrainian president’s plan “should be reinforced by a real ceasefire."
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey 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 told journalists during his visit to Saudi Arabia.
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.
Despite the “unilateral ceasefire,” fighting continues in the southeast of the country. While in general the situation is “calm,” there have been clashes in some areas, the Lugansk People’s Republic said in a statement. It was reported that an artillery shell hit the roof of a kindergarten in Kramatorsk, partly destroying the building. At the same time, self-defense troops of the Donetsk People’s Republic targeted positions of Ukrainian armed forces at Karachun Mountain, Itar-Tass reports.