Ukrainian president ends unilateral ceasefire

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
said he is halting a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with
pro-Russian separatists and says Ukrainian forces will go on the
offensive against the rebels.
A statement from Poroshenko on his
website early Tuesday said the cease-fire is being halted and that "we
will attack and we will free our country."
The fragile cease-fire
expired Monday night. The idea was to give rebels a chance to disarm and
to start a broader peace process including an amnesty and new
But rebels did not disarm, and the ceasefire was
continually violated. Rebels did not comply with Poroshenko’s latest
push to get them to turn over key border crossings with Russia and
permit international monitoring of the cease-fire.
"The unique
chance to put the peace plan into practice was not realized," Poroshenko
said in a speech prepared for delivery to the nation. "This happened
because of the criminal actions of the fighters."
The recently
elected Poroshenko had already extended the cease-fire from seven days
as part of a plan to end the fighting that has killed more than 400
people since April.
Poroshenko’s decision followed four-way talks
in search of a solution with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on
Monday as the deadline approached. He issued a statement after the talks
ended, saying the key conditions needed to continue the ceasefire had
not been met.
Poroshenko said he made the decision after a meeting
of the national security council. "After discussion of the situation,
I, as commander in chief, took the decision not to continue the
unilateral cease-fire."
"Ending the cease-fire, this is our answer
to terrorists, armed insurgents and looters, to all who mock the
peaceful population, who are paralyzing the economy of the region …
who are depriving people of a normal, peaceful life," Poroshenko said in
his speech.
European leaders and the U.S. have urged Russia to
use its influence with the rebels to ease the bloodshed and have
threatened to impose another round of economic sanctions against Moscow.
Putin has expressed support for the cease-fire, the West has accused
Russia of allowing weapons and fighters to flow across the border into
Ukraine. Russia says any Russians there have gone as private citizens.
between Russia and Ukraine escalated in February when protests by
people who wanted closer ties with the European Union drove pro-Russian
president Viktor Yanukovych from office. Russia called that an illegal
coup and seized Ukraine’s Crimea region, saying it was protecting the
rights of people there who speak Russian as their main language.
insurrection in the eastern regions near the Russian border started
soon after, with separatists occupying buildings and declaring
Poroshenko said he meant for a cease-fire to be
followed by an amnesty for fighters who had not considered serious
crimes, and political concessions such as early local and regional
elections, protections for speakers of Russian and, in the longer term,
changes to the constitution to decentralize power to the regions.
end of the cease-fire raises the question of what action the Ukrainian
military can take. It has so far been unable to dislodge rebels
occupying the city of Slovyansk or to retake control of three key border
crossings with Russia. At one point, the rebels shot down a government
military transport, killing 49 service members.