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Ukraine’s President Proposes Peace Deal, Fails to Impress Russia

The deal includes a temporary unilateral ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, which Russia says does not go far enough.

by Olivia Becker
Jun 18 2014, 9:00pm

Photo by Kathrin Möbius

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko proposed a unilateral ceasefire on Wednesday in an attempt to end the ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

The announcement followed a telephone conversation between Poroshenko and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in which they reportedly discussed a possible resolution to the conflict.

Poroshenko outlined the 14-point plan in a speech to Ukrainian military students. Its provisions include securing the border between Russia and Ukraine, amending Ukraine’s constitution to allow for greater regional autonomy, and amnesty for separatists who agree to lay down their arms.

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

But Russia did not immediately welcome the plan. Russia views Ukraine’s military actions in the east as “aggression” against the pro-Russia rebels, and has said that Ukraine must stand down before it would consider any type of peace agreement. Ukraine has accused Russia of backing the rebels, but Russia has long denied having any direct connection to them.

A leader of the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine responded by saying that Poroshenko’s proposal was “a meaningless PR stunt.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed skepticism.

Poroshenko said the ceasefire was temporary, in order to give the Ukrainian military time to secure the border and for the separatists to disarm. Lavrov responded that Russia expects any ceasefire to be “comprehensive.”

Ukraine president promises an 'adequate response' after rebels shoot down military plane. Read more here.

The announcement comes on the same day that the United Nations released a report detailing the deaths of those killed in the fighting in Ukraine and the state of lawlessness in rebel-controlled pockets in eastern Ukraine, particularly around the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

According to the report, 356 people have been killed since mid-April, including 257 civilians and 86 members of the Ukrainian military.

The report describes rampant human rights abuses in separatist-controlled areas, including abductions, detentions, and torture. The chaos has produced “a reign of fear, if not terror,” said Gianni Magazzeni, the lead UN human rights official who presented the report.

More than 34,000 Ukrainians have been displaced by the conflict, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Most of them are from the Crimea region, which was annexed by Russia in March.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter:@obecker928

Photo via Wikimedia Commons