Ukraine offers Easter truce in the east
Government promises not to attack pro-Russian separatists over the weekend even as they continue to occupy buildings.
Last updated: 19 Apr 2014 13:53
Pro-Russia groups have refused to leave occupied buildings in eastern Ukraine [EPA]
|The Ukrainian government has said it will not attack pro-Russian separatists over the Easter weekend even as hundreds of them continued to occupy several buildings in the eastern part of the country.|
The Kremlin denies having control over gunmen who want their eastern regions to follow Crimea in being annexed by Russia.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry promised "the suspension of the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation" among a list of government initiatives to defuse the crisis issued late on Friday.
A spokeswoman for the SBU state security service said on Saturday the suspension was "linked to the implementation of the Geneva agreement and the Easter holidays".
"The anti-terrorist operation was put on hold for the Easter time and we will be not using force against them at this moment," Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia was quoted as saying on Saturday by the BBC.
Also on Saturday, Russia's foreign ministry has promised it would offer strong assistance to Ukraine to overcome its crisis, but emphasized that the ultimate responsibility for reducing tensions lies with Ukrainians rather than outsiders.
The statement came two days after top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the US and the European Union called for an array of actions including the disarming of armed groups and the freeing of public buildings taken over by people on both sides.
"The Russian side noted that the questions of resolving the internal political crisis should be decided by Ukrainians themselves in close cooperation with a special monitoring mission" of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the statement said.
"Russia is prepared to show the most wide support in this."
The statement did not specify what that support would be, and it was not clear what it can do or would be willing to do.
The emphasis on Ukrainians' responsibility echoed a ministry statement a day earlier which said the first step should be the disarming of members of the ultranationalist Right Sector group, whose activists are occupying buildings in the capital Kiev.
Mutual disarmament seems to be in jeopardy, however, as pro-Russian armed groups occupying police stations and other government buildings in eastern Ukraine have said they would not vacate unless the country's acting government resigned.
They say the Kiev authorities, who took power after pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February following months of protests, aim to suppress the country's Russian-speakers.
In response to this accusation on Friday, the interim prime minister and president pledged to afford the Russian language a "special status" in Ukraine in a bid to save the deal.
Russia, meanwhile said military forces near the border with Ukraine have been deployed there in response to instability in the country, Reuters news agency reported.
The Kremlin's explanation was a departure from previous statements that the troops were there on routine exercises.
"We ... have forces in the region of the Ukrainian border. Some of these forces are based there permanently, others are there to reinforce, against the backdrop of what is happening in Ukraine itself," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman to Russian President Vladimir Putin said on the Rossiya 1 television station.
Anti war .....
|Antisemitic Flyer 'By Donetsk People's Republic' in Ukraine a Hoax|
|Russian EU Envoy Says Kiev Misinterpreted Geneva Agreement|
|Ukraine Government Pledges Russian Language Rights|
|Ukraine Says 'Anti-Terrorist' Operation Continues Despite Geneva|
Friday, April 18, 2014 3:27 PM
Also consider Geneva Agreement Does Little to Counter Russian Military Threat
Analysts said the fact that US, EU, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers managed to agree on a document at all was positive, at a meeting for which expectations had been low.
They agreed illegal armed groups should hand over their weapons, Ukraine should undertake reforms to give more powers to its regions, and a monitoring mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe would be stepped up.
But several steps are difficult to implement, or provide no guarantee that the situation in eastern Ukraine could not escalate. “The wording of the agreement is fine, but when I saw it I immediately thought, how can this actually happen?” said Oleksiy Haran, a Kiev-based political scientist who was visiting Donetsk on Friday.
Most importantly, Russia made no commitment to pull back thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine’s border. The groups which must agree to hand over their weapons, moreover, were not directly represented in Geneva.
Please note the extreme hubris of the four parties that agreed to a solution without consulting the views, wishes, and demands of the key group: the separatists.
Addendum: Russia Moves Troops Back to Ukraine Border
Russia confirms that it moved troops back into the border area with Ukraine, according to this link I picked up from ZeroHedge: Russia confirms troops deployed near Ukraine
A Kremlin spokesman confirmed Friday that Russia has built up its military presence on the Ukrainian border, Agence France Presse reported, as the United States warned that Moscow would face tougher sanctions if it failed to abide by a new international deal on Ukraine.Mike "Mish" Shedlock
"We have troops in different regions, and there are troops close to the Ukrainian border. Some are based there, others have been sent as reinforcements due to the situation in Ukraine," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 1 television, AFP reported.
In Washington, Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Moscow would face tougher sanctions if it failed to abide by a deal arrived in Geneva a day earlier that held the hope of defusing the stand-off in Ukraine.
She warned Moscow would also face sanctions if it moved to send Russian forces into eastern Ukraine. "Those costs and sanctions could include targeting very significant sectors of the Russian economy," Rice told reporters.
Earlier Friday, armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said they were not bound by the conditions of the international deal until the government in Kiev government quit.
Itar - Tass ...
Demand to Ukraine to settle payment for gas isn't connected with political process - Putin
Kremlin called on West not to treat Russia as naughty schoolchild