Ukrainian insurgents agree to observe ceasefire
Updated: 2014-06-24 10:16
KIEV - Anti-government insurgents in eastern Ukraine agreed on Monday to observe a ceasefire declared by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said.
The ceasefire came after talks in the eastern city of Donetsk attended by Kuchma, officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Russian ambassador and representatives from the restive Donetsk and Lugansk regions, local media reported.
If both sides observe the ceasefire, "then a normal peace process could start," Kuchma told reporters after Monday's talks.
Speaking positively of the talks, Poroshenko's deputy chief of staff, Valeryi Chalyi, agreed they were a "move in the right direction."
Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov also voiced hope that the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Lugansk People's Republic" would be willing to continue negotiations so as to achieve a lasting truce and peace, and the launch of an inclusive negotiation process.
Poroshenko on Friday unveiled a plan offering unilateral ceasefire, power decentralization in the country through constitutional reform, early parliamentary elections and local elections in the crisis-hit regions.
It also includes a provision to enhance the status of the Russian language across the country and provides security guarantees to all Ukrainians regardless of political belief.
Under the initiative, a 10-km buffer zone on the Ukraine-Russia border and a special corridor are to be created to allow insurgents to leave crisis-hit areas safely.
The armed activists in the two regions, who demanded more autonomy and closer ties with Russia, in April seized administrative buildings and unilaterally declared people's republics.
In an attempt to reassert control over the regions, the Ukrainian military launched an "anti-terror" operation against the insurgents. So far, the violence in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 250 people.