Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the end of a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels in southeastern Ukraine, ignoring pressure from Russia.
“We will attack and we will liberate our land. Non-renewal of the ceasefire is our response to terrorists, rebels, looters, all those who are making fun of civilians who work paralyzing the economy of the region, who rips the payment of salaries, pensions, stipends, who undermines the railroad, destroying water pipes, people who are deprived of normal peaceful life,” Poroshenko said, according to a statement posted to his official website and translated by Google.
The ceasefire expired Monday, a little more than a week after Poroshenko first put it into place. It was meant as a possible starting point toward broader peace negotiations. The pro-Russian rebels never disarmed, and the U.S. accused Russia of sending tanks and other ammunition into Ukraine during the 10-day ceasefire.
According to Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, 27 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed since the beginning of the ceasefire, as fighting continued to rage.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Poroshenko to extend the ceasefire during a conference call with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin said.
The State Department said it would support whatever decision Ukraine made with regards to extending the ceasefire.
“It takes two to implement a ceasefire, and there are still ongoing reports of fighters from Russia and Russia-backed separatists continuing to attack Ukrainian Government positions,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. “There are still troops on the border. There are still armed militants in Ukraine with — who are posing a threat to the Ukrainian people.”
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