Ukraine Announces Ceasefire With Rebel Forces

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko says the military won't attack rebels for seven days as part of a prospective peace plan.
Posted at 8:07 PM, Jun 20, 2014

Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko has declared a unilateral seven-day ceasefire in the country's ongoing struggle with separatist fighters.

The ceasefire will suspend Ukraine's ongoing "anti-terrorist" military operation against pro-Russian rebels. Poroshenko offered amnesty to any militants who lay down their arms by June 27, but warned those who do not surrender "will be destroyed." (Via Euronews, Al Jazeera)

Ukrainian operations against pro-Russian separatist militias have grown increasing violent over the past few weeks. The country's military estimates 300 rebels were killed in air strikes and artillery fire since Thursday. (Via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

The ceasefire is one part of Poroshenko's newly-announced peace plan to calm Ukraine's restive eastern regions, which have opposed the newly formed government in Kiev. The plan includes a 10 km buffer zone between Russia and Ukraine, decentralization of Kiev's power in the east, a safe exit corridor for foreign fighters in the region, and the complete disarmament of rebel forces.

Poroshenko's plan has already won the support of European leaders and the U.S., but many observers are skeptical that the uneasy truce will hold.

"Rebel leaders have already said that they are not going to lay down their arms, and it remains to be seen if they will observe any type of ceasefire at all." (Via BBC)

The Washington Post reports many of the rebels do not trust Poroshenko's ceasefire. One rebel leader told a Russian TV station, "They will stop firing, we will disarm, and they will capture us unarmed — that’s Kiev's logic."

Moscow views the prospective peace plan with skepticism as well, describing it as an ultimatum for pro-Russian rebels to surrender. (Via ITAR-TASS)

And Voice of America reports Poroshenko's plan has been coldly received even back home in Kiev. "Many in the capital say they didn't stand for weeks in the bitter cold earlier this year to topple the former, Russia-friendly president - only for their new president to pander to Russian aggression."

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia were exacerbated this week after Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off natural gas shipments to the country.