SLOVYANOGIRSK, Ukraine- Ukraine’s new Western-backed president on Friday declared a week-long unilateral ceasefire and unveiled a sweeping plan for curbing a pro-Russian insurgency that killed 13 more soldiers in fierce clashes in the eastern Rustbelt.
But both the Kremlin and a senior rebel commander immediately rejected Petro Poroshenko’s proposals for ending the battles that have claimed the lives of more than 375 people and left the ex-Soviet country on the verge of splitting in two.
US President Barack Obama, French counterpart Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the unilateral ceasefire announcement while warning of further possible steps to “impose costs on Russia” if Moscow fails to De-escalate the situation, the White House said.
Obama spoke separately with Merkel and Hollande on Friday and the three leaders stressed the need for Russia to pull back its “destabilizing presence” from the border, a White House official added.
The Kremlin swiftly dismissed the ceasefire as “not an invitation to peace and negotiations but an ultimatum for the militias in the southeast of Ukraine to give up their weapons”.