Russia, US welcome Ukraine ceasefire

Russia, US welcome Ukraine ceasefire
Fri Sep 5, 2014 23:06:47

Russia and the US have welcomed the ceasefire agreement between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russia forces after five months of fighting in eastern Ukraine.

“The Russian presidential office welcomes the signing of the protocol in Minsk," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Friday.

He added that the agreement was the result of initiatives by Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, noting, "Moscow hopes all the provisions of the document and the agreements reached will be thoroughly observed by the parties and that the negotiating process will continue until the crisis in Ukraine is fully resolved."

US President Barack Obama also welcomed the ceasefire but expressed skepticism over determination of pro-Russia militias and Moscow to implement the deal.

“With respect to the ceasefire agreement, obviously we are hopeful but based on past experience also skeptical that in fact the separatists will follow through and the Russians will stop violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. So it has to be tested," Obama told a Friday news conference as he was leaving a two-day NATO summit in Wales.

He called on his European allies to agree on new sanctions against Russia that could be suspended if the truce is violated.

The ceasefire was signed after two hours of negotiations in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on Friday between former Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma, who represented the government in Kiev, and rebel leaders, Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered troops to stop all hostilities by 15:00 GMT and instructed the Foreign Ministry to oversee monitoring of the ceasefire along with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Following the agreement, Plotnitsky stressed that ceasefire does not mean a change in their goal to split from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence pro-Russians in mid-April.

Violence intensified in May after the two flashpoint regions of Donetsk and Lugansk held local referendums, in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine.

Western powers and the Kiev government accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, but the Kremlin denies the accusation.


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