Ukraine president sets out unilateral cease-fire plan

Updated: 2014-06-19 07:08

By Reuters in Kiev, Ukraine (China Daily)

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Ukraine president sets out unilateral cease-fire plan

A woman walks at the site of an explosion after overnight shelling hit amarket in the eastern Ukranian city of Sloviansk on Tuesday. Ukraine's president said on Monday he had ordered troops to regain control of the frontier with Russia to pave the way for a truce and peace talks after weeks of fighting with separatists. Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Moscow highlights civilian deaths, calls operation 'punitive'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko set out proposals on Wednesday for a peace plan for eastern Ukraine involving a unilateral cease-fire by government forces. The announcement came after a late-night telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which the possibility of a cease fire was discussed.

Speaking to students at a military institute in Kiev, Poroshenko outlined a 14-step plan, including an amnesty for separatist fighters who lay down their arms, and tighter controls over Ukraine's border with Russia. Acting Defence Minister Mykhailo Koval told journalists in Kiev the cease-fire "will happen in the next few days".

Ukraine accuses Russia of backing rebels in the industrial Russian-speaking east who rose up after the ousting in February of former president Viktor Yanukovich. The new Kiev government claims the rebels have been smuggling weapons across the border with Russia.

"The plan will start with my order for a unilateral cease-fire," Poroshenko said. "Immediately after this, we need very quickly to get support for the peace plan ... from all participants."

Poroshenko had said on Monday that a cease-fire could start only if the border was secure, and that he had ordered troops to regain control of it to pave the way for a truce and peace talks.

The Kremlin said Putin's conversation with Poroshenko late on Tuesday night had "touched on the theme of a possible cease-fire in the area of military action in southeastern Ukraine".

Accused of criminal acts

Moscow has urged a swift end to what it calls a "punitive operation" by Ukrainian forces against separatist rebels in the east.

On Wednesday, Russian investigators accused Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Ihor Kolomoisky, governor of the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, of criminal acts in the government's military push against the separatists.

A spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee said they were under investigation on charges including murder, kidnapping and using illegal methods of warfare.

According to Russia Today, the committee stated that over 100 civilians were killed, 200 injured and more than 500 homes damaged or destroyed in Kiev's military operation.

The Russian news channel said the UN special commission in Ukraine put the civilian casualty figure much higher, with 257 killed, including 14 children.

The committee claims the Ukrainian military has used various types of artillery and heavy weaponry against civilians in violation of international law, Russia Today reported.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine are in tatters, three months after Russia labeled the uprising against Yanukovich a Western-backed coup, then annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine.

Moscow has grudgingly acknowledged Poroshenko as Ukraine's new elected leader, but tensions are still high, exacerbated by Russia's decision to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine after the two sides failed to agree to a regime for pricing and the settlement of Ukraine's debts.