In a potential de-escalation in fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, the insurgents now say they will join Kiev in observing a temporary cease-fire.
The BBC reports that the rebel announcement was made in Donetsk by Alexander Borodai, a leader of the self-styled “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
The Associated Press notes: “The insurgents had previously demanded the Ukrainian military withdraw its troops from the east as a condition for any talks, so Borodai’s statement represented a softened stance that raised expectations that the cease-fire could hold. Even before the insurgents made their pledge, the government said that there had been no fighting in the east since Monday morning.”
As we reported last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the unilateral cease-fire on Friday, hoping that the separatists would follow suit. It is set to expire on June 27.
According to the BBC:
“Last week [Russian] President Putin cautiously welcomed the Kiev ceasefire. The plan involves decentralising power, holding early elections, and creating a 10km (six-mile) buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border.
“The rebels say they will not disarm until Ukrainian government troops have left the east. The militants still control key government buildings across Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
” ‘The ceasefire will take effect as announced earlier — until 10:00 (07:00 GMT) on 27 June,’ Mr Borodai said, referring to President Poroshenko’s declaration on Friday. ‘During that time there will be ceasefire monitoring by Russia and the OSCE.’
” ‘We hope that during the ceasefire both sides will manage to reach agreement and start consultations on how to proceed with talks and a peace settlement.’ ”