Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered a unilateral weeklong cease-fire against pro-Russia separatists in the country’s east, in hopes the move will lead to a broader de-escalation of a conflict that has threatened to bisect the former Soviet satellite.
Poroshenko’s move is a first step aimed at ending the conflict. He said Ukrainian troops would fire only if fired upon during the seven-day hiatus.
“The forces of the anti-terrorist operation will halt military action starting today and through June 27,” Poroshenko was cited as saying by the Interior Ministry on its website.
However, it remains to be seen whether the separatists will follow suit. The BBC reports:
“Ukrainian news agencies quoted a senior rebel commander as saying the insurgents would not lay their arms until government troops had left the region.
“The ceasefire comes a day after Mr Poroshenko held his second phone conversation this week with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“The peace plan proposed by Mr Poroshenko promises to decentralise power and hold early local and parliamentary elections.
“It also proposes the creation of a 10km [6 mile] buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and a safe corridor for pro-Russian separatists to leave the conflict areas.”
Reuters reports that Russian news agencies citing the Kremlin say Poroshenko’s cease-fire is “not a peace offer but an ultimatum.”