Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko listens to questions during a media conference after a signing ceremony at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, June 27, 2014.
It came 43 minutes after midnight on Tuesday, when Petro Poroshenko said he had decided to suspend the ceasefire first announced on June 20, after consultations with Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Monday evening.
“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 tormenting civilians, who are paralyzing the regions’ economy … who are depriving people of a normal, peaceful life,” the president said in an address to the nation.
Poroshenko, “as commander-in-chief,” said he made the decision not to pursue “a unilateral ceasefire regime” because “the political leadership of the separatists demonstrated unwillingness and inability to control the actions of their units and the terrorist gangs of looters.”
“Protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, safety and lives of civilians requires not only defensive, but also offensive, operations against terrorist militants,” he said, adding that the country’s armed forces, National Guard, State Border Guard Service and Security Service “have received appropriate instructions.”
A shaky ceasefire, which expired at 10 p.m., had been more or less in effect for the past 10 days. However, it did little to curb the violence that has shaken the Russian-speaking eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, even as quadrilateral peace talks between so-called contact-group representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and separatists took place in Donetsk this week.
Ukrainian asks the presidential admin guard if there are any officials in the building after ceasefire end announced pic.twitter.com/wYKj3PyiCK— Feldman (@EvgenyFeldman) June 30, 2014
At least 27 Ukrainian government troops were killed and 69 wounded during the ceasefire, according to a statement from Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It added that pro-Russian separatists violated the ceasefire 108 times. For their part, separatists have placed the blame on the Ukraine side for violating the ceasefire.
In all, hundreds of government servicemen, separatist fighters and civilians — including more than a dozen children — have been killed since the onslaught of Ukraine’s military operation in mid-April, according to rights groups and official data.
Earlier on Monday, Poroshenko held four-way telephone talks for the second straight day with French, German and Russian leaders aimed at de-escalating the situation in the east.
Instead, Poroshenko warned separatists that his forces would squash them if they did not disarm, while at the same time hold up his previous peace plan, including the promise of decentralization of power, security for the Russian language and the rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure.
The president also appealed to Ukrainians to remain strong as the fight ramped up. “The road to peace is somewhat more complex than desired. I do not want to embellish reality. It will be hard and difficult,” he said. “But there was not any war after which there has not occurred peace."
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