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Ukraine orders 1-week government cease-fire

Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's president ordered his forces to cease fire Friday and halt military operations for a week against pro-Russian separatists in the country's east - the first step in a peace plan he hopes will end the fighting that has killed hundreds.

The Kremlin dismissed the plan, saying it sounded like an ultimatum and lacked any firm offer to open talks with insurgents.

Petro Poroshenko, making his first trip to the east as Ukraine's president, said that the cease-fire will run until the morning of June 27 and that his troops reserve the right to fire back if separatists attack them or civilians.

"The Ukrainian army is ceasing fire," he said in a statement. "But this does not mean that we will not resist. In case of aggression toward our troops, we will do everything to defend the territory of our state."

Separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have declared independence from his government in Kiev, occupied public buildings and fought with heavy weapons against Ukrainian troops.

Rebel leaders have already dismissed Poroshenko's plan, and it remains to be seen whether they will comply and how much pressure Russia will put on them to cease fire.

The Kremlin denies supporting the insurrection and has said that Russians fighting in Ukraine are doing so as private citizens.

Russia said in a statement that an initial analysis of Poroshenko's plan shows that "it's not an invitation for peace and talks, but an ultimatum" to insurgents in southeast Ukraine to lay down their weapons. It said the plan "lacks the main element - an offer to start talks."

The Kremlin said Poroshenko's government issued the peace plan "deliberately or accidentally" at roughly the same moment that Ukrainian forces fired into Russian territory, wounding a Russian customs officer. It said the Russian side was waiting for Ukrainian "explanations and excuses" over the attack.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that its forces were trying to flush out insurgents near the border checkpoint, but denied targeting it.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior lawmaker in the lower house of Russian parliament, said Russian President Vladimir Putin could be waiting to see concrete action by the Ukrainian forces to stop fighting.

"That will be a proof that Poroshenko is indeed the president. That could be considered the first step toward peace," Slutsky said, according to an ITAR-Tass report.

Putin has criticized Ukraine's military operation against the rebels but he has resisted both the rebels' pleas to join Russia and appeals from Russian nationalists to send troops into Ukraine.

The White House and European leaders urged support for the plan.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. government "has been very clear in our support for President Poroshenko's effort to bring peace and unity to Ukraine." He said the White House wants Russia "to stop supporting the militants who are fomenting so much violence and instability."

Tension between Russia and Ukraine escalated sharply in February when protests in favor of closer ties with the European Union drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power. Russia denounced the events as a coup and annexed Ukraine's mostly Russian-speaking Crimea region. The rebellion in the eastern regions broke out shortly afterward, with Ukraine accusing Russia of supporting it.

Poroshenko's cease-fire is intended to give separatists time to lay down their arms and to allow fighters from Russia to safely leave the country.

The proposed next steps include joint security patrols to prevent looting and other crime, new local and parliamentary elections, and measures to protect the language rights of Russian speakers in the east.

In the longer term, Poroshenko has suggested decentralizing power to give the country's regions more political authority.

At a border crossing near Izvaryne in the separatist Luhansk region, 100 or more cars waited in line for hours to cross from Ukraine into Russia as people fled the unrest. Some cars were piled high with possessions.

One car had a sign on the windshield that said "children." A man named Sergei, who would not give his last name for fear of retaliation, said, "People are simply leaving everything and trying to escape the war."

The United Nations says at least 356 people have been killed since May 7 and 34,000 have fled their homes. The U.N. report doesn't include casualties from previous weeks of fighting, so the actual toll could be significantly higher.


Dobrnjakovic reported from Izvaryne. AP reporters Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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laclone June 20 2014 at 6:49 PM

"The Kremlin denies supporting the insurrection and has said that Russians fighting in Ukraine are doing so as private citizens."

Yea! The Russians fighting in Ukraine are private citizens..., of Russia!
Active duty Russian Military forces who, with Putin's blessing, removed all insignia and rank markings from their uniforms, and are supplied with Russian military hardware and weapon and ammunition. Or did the rebels just go to the local "Tanks-R-Us" and buy heavy weapons and equipment.

What Putin is doing is so transparent that only a politician could be fooled by it. China did it in Korea, and then later in Viet Nam.

The Ukrainian forces are fighting Russian Military forces that are augmenting the separatist with weapons, personnel, and leadership.

You take a country from the inside, not from the outside.

Classic Mao.

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5 replies
almazstmp June 20 2014 at 5:50 PM

Asking opposition to surrender is not a peace plan.

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1 reply
waltervlod almazstmp June 20 2014 at 8:16 PM

The opposition are "TERRORISTS"!

Funded and equipped by Putin and his Kremlin huylos!

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3 replies
thomas ludwig June 20 2014 at 11:02 PM

Ukraine is run by fascists and neo-nazis, installed and backed by the US/EU/NATO to create a state where eventually NATO can put military bases and missiles against Russia, and can then also manipulate the country for US/EU business and geopolitical interests. The people, as usual are just hapless victims in this plan, under the flag of "democracy". Anyone who fights against this plan can and will be killed. Anyone who rejects or speaks out will be beat down, intimidated and threatened. The US/EU skills at lies, deceit and propaganda make Hitler and the Nazis look like amateurs. This same skill has now been instilled and taught to the Ukraine govt. No proof of allegations are needed, just keep saying the lies over and over again until the people believe.

Evil lurks in the empty souls of US/EU/NATO and now the Ukrainian government. How far this situation will go only depends on how far their evil will go, maybe to WW3.

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6 replies
almazstmp June 20 2014 at 8:55 PM

I was never a big fan of Putin, until Ukrainian fiasco. I wish our government had as much wisdom, judgement and intelligence as Putin had shown. Our government can't even explain what the hell we are doing in Syria, in Egypt and in the Ukraine.

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3 replies
cryptmaker57 June 20 2014 at 9:17 PM

I'm sick and tired of plastic phonies patriots posting here that don't know their arse from a hole in the wall! What a sick friggin bunch of trolls. Everyone is a parrot, I guess they have no brains to do their own research. Its the west and mainly the usa that for the past 10 years spent our tax dollars 5 billon yes I said 5 billon and are roads are disgusting poor shape. I was in Russia and watched the riots in Kiev while at the games. All those poor police doing their jobs over a 100 on last count and the protesters that were butchered to insight more heavy rioting. Were highered by the same cast of characters, the west! As a Polish person of american birth after WWII, I find it very disgusting my old country trained those thugs in a police compound outside of Warsaw and it was in October 2013. Russian had nothing to do with this batched rape of the Ukraine look at the west and the puppet state for the make believes the usa. Then think about 2008 war Georgia vs Russia, the west.

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5 replies
Ed June 20 2014 at 6:53 PM

Seeing Poroshenko in fatigues bring back memories of Dukakis in a tank. Both images are more than inspiring.

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Welcome King June 20 2014 at 10:07 PM

Cease fire only works if both sides want it.

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1 reply
sandinbox Welcome King June 20 2014 at 11:29 PM

Welcome King...what's Ukraine suppose to do sit and do nothing while Russia invades it? They've already taken Crimea, now they're trying to take eastern and southeastern Ukraine and then Moldova and than maybe Poland and the Baltic States. These countries were all under Russian dictatorship for over 70 years what have they gotten for it poverty, and corruption. They'd rather die than go back under that thuggish evil dictatorship of Putins Regime.

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USS Titanic June 21 2014 at 12:39 AM

A cease fire...= opportunity...

The rebels should talk...then if they cannot work it out...and won't go home and open their shops...go to work...let the children walk to school in safety... Well then...

they either leave the country or die....It is what happens to REBELS

Eastern Ukraine = Ukraine

Not Russia/Soviet Union

Pretty easy... just walk EAST...you can't miss the Socilistic country of the Soviets...

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1 reply
almazstmp USS Titanic June 21 2014 at 4:43 AM

Ukrainian fascists should go back to Lviv, where they came from and give Lviv back to Poland.

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thomas ludwig June 21 2014 at 12:13 AM

I would like to hear from a Ukrainian about how Ukrainians themselves are largely responsible for all this mess. You had 23 years as an independent country and squandered it. In 2005, 500,000 went to Maidan to fight for Yuschenko to get the presidency. You rallied against Yanukovych and condemned him. Five years later in the next election, you gave your "hero" Yuschenko only 5% of the vote and then elected Yanukovych, the one you despised. Fast forward to 2013 and here you are again, this time kicking out the one you democratically elected. I guess the 5 billion dollars the US spent on "building democratic ideals" wasn't well spent on you.

You went on and on about the mansion Yanukovych had and the lavish lifestyle, only to replace him with oligarchs ten times more wealthy and corrupt. Yanukovych agreed on Feb 22, 2014 to early elections in September, but you couldn't wait. Instead of having peaceful elections then, you opted for violence, death and destruction. Happy now?

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1 reply
USS Titanic thomas ludwig June 21 2014 at 12:42 AM

If the guy was so damn innocent...he would have stayed and answered to the embezzlement charges...but no....he grabbed what he could and ran away...

No one threatened him with bodily harm...

Yep!!! sounds like an innocent man...

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1 reply
almazstmp USS Titanic June 21 2014 at 4:46 AM

....a trial by a mob of fascists and degenerates.

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john4law June 21 2014 at 12:11 PM

How many Tanks and other heavy weapons is Putin going to pour into Ukraine during this "cease fire"? You don't get peace from the likes of Putin by merely ASKING for it.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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