Ukrainian president to order unilateral ceasefire 'shortly'Wednesday 18 June 2014 23.01
Ukraine's new President Petro Poroshenko has said he would soon order a unilateral ceasefire in the separatist east as part of a broader plan to end the ten-week insurgency.
"The peace plan begins with my order for a unilateral ceasefire," the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted the Western-backed leader as saying.
"Immediately after that, we must receive support for the presidential peace plan from all sides involved [in the conflict]. This should happen very shortly."
Mr Poroshenko's announcement came after a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the two leaders discussed a long-term solution to the pro-Kremlin uprising gripping Ukraine's eastern rustbelt since early April.
The Ukrainian leader's office said the two presidents "discussed a series of priority measures that must be undertaken to implement a ceasefire, as well as the most efficient ways to monitor it."
The Kremlin confirmed that "the issue of a possible ceasefire in the area of the military operation in Ukraine's southeast had been touched upon."
Mr Poroshenko's peace initiative calls for an end to hostilities and for Putin to formally recognise the new leadership in Ukraine that rose to power following the pro-Russian administration's ouster in February.
The 48-year-old confectionery tycoon won Ukraine's 25 May presidential election on a promise to quickly end the country's worst crisis since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Interfax-Ukraine said Poroshenko told reporters in Kiev that the ceasefire was meant to be a temporary measures designed to give the pro-Russian militants a chance to disarm.
Meanwhile, Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine are stable after an explosion on an Ukrainian pipeline, Vitaly Markelov, a member of Gazprom's board told a news conference.
Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Kiev on Monday after Ukraine failed to pay off its gas debts.
The Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline, which was hit by the blast, is the main transit route for Russian gas to the European Union via Ukraine.
Ukraine said yesterday it was treating the explosion as a possible "act of terrorism", intended to discredit Ukraine as a reliable supplier.