(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday government forces would renew offensive operations against rebels and “free our lands”, hours after a ceasefire to allow for peace talks with the pro-Russian separatists had expired.
Poroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning violence in eastern Ukraine, dismissed Moscow’s offers to defuse the crisis, and blamed the rebels for failing to keep to the truce or follow a peace plan he had outlined. “We will attack and free our lands. The decision not to continue the ceasefire is our answer to terrorists, militants and marauders,” he said in a televised statement delivered in front of the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag.
The announcement came after a four-way phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German and French leaders aimed at helping end the crisis in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east where government forces have been battling rebels since April.
Poroshenko had extended a government ceasefire last week until 10 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Monday to allow for peace talks with the so-called contact group involving separatist leaders, a former Ukrainian president, a senior representative of the OSCE rights and security body and Moscow’s ambassador to Kiev.
“The unique chance to implement the peace plan was not realised. It happened because of the criminal actions of the militants. They publicly declared their unwillingness to support the peace plan as a whole and in particular the ceasefire,” Poroshenko said.
Moscow could face more penalties from the European Union on top of existing asset freezes and visa bans unless pro-Russian rebels act to wind down the crisis in the Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
Full article: Poroshenko ends Ukraine ceasefire, says government will attack rebels (Reuters)