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Ukraine cease-fire announcement greeted with skepticism

By JIM HEINTZ

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in agreement on a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, but the statement was ambiguous and a top rebel figure said no cease-fire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces.

The brief statement said "mutual understanding was reached regarding the steps that will contribute to the establishment of peace" but gave no details.

There have been previous statements of agreements on steps for peace, but the conflict has only intensified. Wednesday's statement came as U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Estonia in a show of solidarity with NATO allies who fear they could be the next target of Russia's aggression.

Poroshenko's office first said that there "agreement on a permanent cease-fire," but later revised the statement to say "agreement on a cease-fire regime." The changes appeared in Ukrainian, Russian and English-language versions issued by the office.

That appeared to indicate they were in agreement on conditions necessary for a cease-fire, not that one would imminently be implemented.

Vladislav Brrig, a rebel official, told The Associated Press, "As long as Ukrainian forces are on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic there can be no ceasefire"

Ukraine, Russia Backpedal Over Apparent Cease-Fire

The rebels ignored a 10-day unilateral cease-fire that Poroshenko had called in June.

Russian markets jumped on first reports of an agreement. The MICEX benchmark was 3 percent higher while the ruble rose 1.2 percent against the U.S. dollar.

Germany's Dax index, which has been particularly sensitive to news regarding the Ukrainian crisis because of the country's economic ties with Russia, was up 1.6 percent.

At midday, the MICEX had eased to 2.7 percent higher and the DAX was up 1.2 percent.

Obama said it was too early to tell what the announcement meant. He noted previous unsuccessful attempts and questioned whether pro-Russian separatists would abide by any cease-fire.

"We haven't seen a lot of follow-up on so-called announced cease-fires," Obama said. "Having said that, if in fact Russia is prepared to stop financing, arming, training, in many cases joining with Russian troops, activities in Ukraine and is serious about a political settlement, that is something we all hope for."

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of sending its troops and weapons to support pro-Russian insurgents who have been fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine since mid-April. Moscow has vehemently denied this charge.

That denial leaves unclear how effective the truce announced Wednesday would prove to be. After a meeting with Poroshenko last week, Putin had said a cease-fire was not discussed because Russia was not a party to the conflict.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted by Russian news agencies on Wednesday as saying the leaders had "largely agreed on steps that would be conducive to a cease-fire," but repeated that Russia is not involved in the fighting.

Rebel leader said earlier this week that they would respect Ukraine's sovereignty in exchange for autonomy. The rebels previously have called for full independence for their regions or possible absorption into Russia. Poroshenko has spoken in favor of devolving some of the central government's power to regions, but that is far short of autonomy for the rebel regions.

Over the weekend, the European Union leaders agreed to prepare a new round of sanctions that could be enacted in a week, after NATO accused Russia of sending tanks and troops into southeastern Ukraine. A NATO summit in Wales on Thursday is also expected to approve measures designed to counter Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed nearly 2,600 people and forced over 340,000 to flee their homes, according to the U.N.


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tmccull52 September 03 2014 at 5:46 AM

Yes, and we can all trust Vladmir Putin about as much as Israel could trust Hamas during their numerous ceasefires.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
4 replies
one.giant.step.for.mankind September 03 2014 at 10:28 AM

So many 'evil' world powers choosing
--- NOW ---
while Obama is President and
'leader of the free world'
to aggressively gain more power over the world.
What has
Or will President Obama do?
Obama's knees are knocking together so hard,
he'll soon need knee braces..!

Flag Reply +15 rate up
4 replies
frankiegallo33 September 03 2014 at 6:29 AM

Now that Putin's work is done there, I wish he'd come to America and take Obama's job as President.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
16 replies
jsinvent September 03 2014 at 6:32 AM

If you believe Putin then you probably believe Obama when he told you over 20 times you get to keep your Doctor and it won't cost you one thin dime and its all Bush's fault.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
5 replies
Robert September 03 2014 at 5:54 AM

The Russians claim they were never involved so how is it that they agree to a cease fire? Oh I know this Russian thug thinks he's smarter than the rest of the world. Time for NATO to flex.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
5 replies
vladswim September 03 2014 at 5:41 AM

Poroshenko is a lying POS! He just says that so his troops will regroup and rest. Kill all those Western Ukrainian bastards while there's still time.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
6 replies
tsimpson2333 September 03 2014 at 7:29 AM

Man, this appears to be a re-run of history, Chamberlain & Hitler in 1939 prior to invasion of Poland.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
ram4131 September 03 2014 at 10:18 AM

Stop fighting each other Russia, and turn your attention to ISIS.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
4 replies
elena1588 September 03 2014 at 8:21 AM

NATO already stated they can't confirm presence of Russian military on Ukraine. Where AOL authors getting their infirmation from?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
9 replies
tistolaugh September 03 2014 at 12:23 PM

As it turns out, Obama's trainwreck of a presidency and shocking incompetence is a much bigger threat in the world than Russia's aggression.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
3 replies
aol~~ 1209600

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