Ukraine rebels agree to in­def­i­nite truce

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A top Ukrainian in­sur­gent said Fri­day the rebels had agreed to an in­def­i­nite cease­fire ne­go­ti­ated by Mos­cow and Kiev that would go into ef­fect this week­end. The lat­est truce was ham­mered out with the help of Euro­pean mon­i­tors and came af­ter a surge in fight­ing that claimed the lives of eight Ukrainian sol­diers this week.

Rus­sia de­nies back­ing the rebels but the West and Kiev view them as Mos­cow prox­ies who ini­ti­ated a 31-month con­flict in Ukraine’s in­dus­trial east to throw Kiev’s pro-Western govern­ment off bal­ance. The armistice is meant to come into force at mid­night yes­ter­day and last through at least the hol­i­day sea­son. “The in­def­i­nite truce will go into ef­fect at mid­night,” the separatists’ main news site quoted rebel ne­go­tia­tor De­nis Pushilin as say­ing. His com­ment was quickly hailed by Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko as a sign that his blood­ied na­tion was on the road to last­ing peace. “I ex­pect that thanks to these mea­sures, which come on the eve of the New Year and Christ­mas hol­i­days, this cease­fire in eastern Ukraine will be a last­ing one,” Poroshenko said in a state­ment.

Or­tho­dox Christ­mas in for­mer Soviet republics is ob­served on Jan­uary 7.

Ukraine has seen as a se­ries of pe­ri­odic truces that al­ways ended up be­ing bro­ken dur­ing a fight­ing that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives in the Euro­pean Union’s back­yard. Rus­sia de­nies play­ing a part in the war and calls its troops killed or cap­tured in the war zone vol­un­teers. But its seat at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble un­der­scores the sway it holds over the in­sur­gents from the mostly Rus­sian-speak­ing in­dus­trial re­gions of Lu­gansk and Donetsk.

The truce will come into force af­ter Alexan­der Hug of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co-op­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) warned Thurs­day of a “mas­sive up­surge in vi­o­lence” in a coun­try that has turned into a bro­ken bridge be­tween Rus­sia and the West. Hug said his or­ga­ni­za­tion in re­cent weeks had recorded a 75-per­cent in­crease in vi­o­la­tions of a cease­fire agreed in Fe­bru­ary 2014 to lit­tle ef­fect. The deputy chief of the OSCE’s Spe­cial Mon­i­tor­ing Mis­sion for Ukraine added that the use of heavy weapons banned by a tat­tered Fe­bru­ary 2015 peace agree­ment had risen by 300 per­cent. Ukraine and its pro-Rus­sian foes agreed a sim­i­lar hol­i­day truce last year. It lasted for sev­eral weeks be­fore fight­ing slowly re­sumed and led to a se­ries of bloody bat­tles over the sum­mer. The last truce be­tween the two sworn foes was agreed on Septem­ber 1 and largely held un­til this month. — AFP

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