Ukrainian president ends unilateral ceasefire
KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he is halting a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists and says Ukrainian forces will go on the offensive against the rebels.
A statement from Poroshenko on his website says the cease-fire is being halted and that "we will attack and we will free our country."
The fragile cease-fire expired Monday night. The idea was to give rebels a chance to disarm and to start a broader peace process including an amnesty and new elections.
But rebels did not disarm, and the ceasefire was continually violated. Rebels did not comply with Poroshenko’s latest push to get them to turn over key border crossings with Russia and permit international monitoring of the cease-fire.
"The unique chance to put the peace plan into practice was not realized," Poroshenko said in a speech prepared for delivery to the nation. "This happened because of the criminal actions of the fighters."
Poroshenko had already extended the cease-fire from seven days as part of a plan to end the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April.
Poroshenko’s decision followed four-way talks in search of a solution with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Monday as the deadline approached. He issued a statement after the talks ended saying the key conditions needed to continue the ceasefire had not been met.
European leaders and the U.S. have urged Russia to use its influence with the rebels to ease the bloodshed and have threatened to impose another round of economic sanctions against Moscow.
While Putin has expressed support for the cease-fire, the West has accused Russia of allowing weapons and fighters to flow across the border into Ukraine.
Poroshenko said he meant for a cease-fire to be followed by an amnesty for fighters who had not considered serious crimes, and political concessions such as early local and regional elections, protections for speakers of Russian and, in the longer term, changes to the constitution to decentralize power to the regions.
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