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Kiev retracts 'permanent' ceasefire statement, says steps for establishing peace agreed

Published time: September 03, 2014 08:06
Edited time: September 03, 2014 12:21
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (Reuters)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (Reuters)

Kiev retracted its earlier statement regarding a “permanent ceasefire” in eastern Ukraine, which followed a phone call between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders. The new wording from Poroshenko’s office talks of a ceasefire “regime”.

The Russian and Ukrainian languages use the word to mean “mode”, signifying the possibility of a softer, less permanent version of the previous suggestion.

Although an earlier corresponding message from Poroshenko’s office initially talked of a “permanent ceasefire”, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov underlined that this wording is not applicable because Russia isn’t a party to the violence.

“In the course of today’s phone call between Putin and Poroshenko there was indeed an exchange of views that went a long way toward an agreement on steps to be taken for a swift end to the clashes taking place between the Ukrainian military and south-eastern uprising,” Peskov said.

But the spokesperson thought it important to point out that because the conflict is an internal one – and not one between two countries. This view has already been voiced by President Putin last week in Minsk, where he met the Ukrainian leader.

Ukrainian servicemen ride in an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 2, 2014. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

“Frankly speaking, we can’t frame the discussion in ceasefire terms, those concerning any possible negotiations between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk – this isn’t any of our business, it is Ukraine’s,” the Russian president said then.

Donetsk authorities say they are willing to engage in a diplomatic settlement with Kiev if it proves its commitment to peace by stopping the shelling.

Ukraine’s Aydar battalion has acknowledged its readiness to carry out the order to cease fire, if such an order is given, its commander Sergey Melnichuk told local TV channel ‘112 Ukraine’.

Kiev’s bloody eastern Ukraine campaign LIVE UPDATES

The confrontation between the anti-government forces and the Ukrainian military, lasting over four months, has claimed the lives of around 2,500 people, according to UN estimates.

A million people have been displaced – the majority of them to Russia.

Members of the self-defense forces during the combat operations in the town of Shakhtyorsk near Donetsk. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)

But the biggest toll was inflicted on the peaceful population in cities like Donetsk and Lugansk, who were left without energy, food, water or connection to the outside world.

While international condemnation was initially aimed at Russia in an attempt to blame it for the escalation, lately the balance has shifted to recognizing the often indiscriminate nature of Ukrainian military shelling of the eastern parts, which used high-powered weaponry forbidden by international law to be used in populated areas.

Human Rights Watch was the latest to condemn the use of such weapons and point to their presence as the major contributing factor to the high death toll in the area.

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