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Poroshenko says 'real truce' has begun in Ukraine

07 october 2015, 16:51
0
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. ©AFP
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. ©AFP

President Petro Poroshenko said on Wednesday a "real truce" had begun in Ukraine but that a long-lasting peace with pro-Russian insurgents would still take some time, AFP reports.

"There has not been a single shot fired. This is still not peace. This is not the end of the war," the pro-Western leader said in a televised address.

"The end of war will come when every patch of Ukrainian soil is liberated from the enemy, the occupant, the aggressor. But this is not simply a ceasefire -- this is a real truce."

Poroshenko's comments to a group of military training students in Kiev came one day after the separatists delayed until next year local elections they planned for the coming weeks.

The conciliatory gesture came in response to strong Western pressure for Russian President Vladimir Putin -- a nationalist leader who denies any involvement in Ukraine's affairs -- to convince the militias to push back their vote.

Poroshenko had called the planned elections "fake" and branded them as another example of the eastern fighters' refusal to commit to a tacky February truce deal that was often broken but has been far more respected in the past month.

Russia and the European Union also welcomed the rebels' Tuesday announcement because it gave time for the elections to be conducted in conformity with Ukrainian and international laws.

No firm date for the local votes in Lugansk and Donetsk had yet been set.

  'Return of occupied lands' 

Ukrainian forces on Tuesday began withdrawing tanks from the demarcation line with Lugansk -- one of the two industrial republics resisting Kiev's pro-EU leadership.

A spokesman for the Lugansk insurgents told Russia's TASS-agency that his side had also moved smaller weapons 15 kilometres (nine miles) away from a demarcation line separating pro-Russian forces from the rest of the ex-Soviet state.

Both pullbacks conformed to a new deal signed by the warring sides on September 1.

Fighters of the larger and more militant Donetsk province are to begin pulling back their tanks and smaller weapons on October 18.

Poroshenko said his meeting with Putin and the leaders of Germany and France in Paris on Friday "helped us if not necessarily end, then at least firmly pause the conflict's active phase."

He also repeated that both pro-Russian regions must give up their aspirations of establishing closer diplomatic and trade relations with Moscow.

"Thanks to the arms withdrawal agreement and the ceasefire, God willing, this will evolve into a stable cessation of hostilities," said the 50-year-old leader.

"And in that case, we will have a chance to achieve peace and -- of this, I am certain -- the return of the occupied lands."

The 18-month insurrection -- the bloodiest war in Europe since the Balkans crises of the 1990s -- has killed more than 8,000 people and driven about 1.5 million from their homes.

It has also further eroded Putin's relations with Washington and Brussels -- an isolation that threatens to escalate further with Russia's current air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


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