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East Ukraine’s self-proclaimed republics skeptical about Kiev’s ceasefire announcement

The self-proclaimed republic’s leadership viewed then announcement only as campaign rhetoric

DONETSK, April 13. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed eastern Ukrainian republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) were skeptical about plans of the so-called Easter Ceasefire, revealed by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Poroshenko told reporters at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that a ceasefire will be in effect in Donbass starting from Thursday, April 18. Later, he told Ukraine’s Inter TV that the leaders of France and Germany, who together with Russia and Ukraine comprise the Normandy format for eastern Ukrainian settlement, had signaled their readiness to hold a Normandy Four summit once he is re-elected. The event will presumably take place in France. Moreover, according to Poroshenko, he agreed with the German and French leaders that "all necessary security preconditions for a political settlement" in Donbass will be in place "no later than March 2020, prior to the start of local elections."

Commenting on the news, the DPR head, Denis Pushilin, said the self-proclaimed republic’s leadership viewed then announcement only as campaign rhetoric.

"We treat Poroshenko’s unilateral declaration of the Easter Ceasefire to be in effect starting from April 18 as an election campaign stunt of a presidential candidate from a neighboring country. Such pre-election rhetoric cannot be treated seriously," Pushilin was quoted as saying by the Donetsk News Agency.

He added that the Kiev government did not even bother to coordinate the date of the ceasefire with the leadership of the self-proclaimed republics.

"Moreover, Ukrainian representatives at the peace talks in Minsk demonstrated an unconstructive approach and were unwilling to add practical ceasefire control measures into the text of the ceasefire announcement. This is the reason why the sides failed to coordinate the date and time of the ceasefire and could not agree on the text of the Contact Group statement," the DPR leader said.

"The republics have always favored a total ceasefire for an unlimited period of time, not an imitation of it. This is why they have been trying to coordinate with Kiev practical measures of control along the contact line. The Ukrainian side has been deliberately delaying this effort and constantly violating its own commitments regarding the implementation of truce," the official said.

Leonid Pasechnik, the head of another self-proclaimed eastern Ukrainian republic LPR, issued a similar statement in the wake of the announcement.

"Poroshenko’s Berlin statement about the Easter ceasefire, which will allegedly take effect on April 18, is a yet another campaign stunt, based on lies. It is the Ukrainian side and its unconstructive stance that are to be blamed for our failure to agree on the concrete date and time of the ceasefire, as well as on the text of the announcement," he said. "Considering that Ukrainian negotiators strictly observe Kiev’s commands, Poroshenko’s words sound strange to us."

Pasechnik added that to date, the sides managed to agree only about holding a video conference of the security subgroup on April 18, which is to be followed by a Contact Group meeting.

He added that such initiatives cannot be declared unilaterally and must be discussed with representatives of the self-proclaimed republics.

"To that end, we have been discussing practical ceasefire control measures with Ukraine for about a year. However, Kiev creates delays in those efforts and carries out daily provocations by constantly shelling our territories and killing our people," the LPR head said.

The sides have made more than 20 ceasefire agreements since an armed conflict broke out in Donbass in April 2014 but failed to secure a sustainable ceasefire. On March 7, the security subgroup of the Contact Group on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine agreed to declare a spring ceasefire in Donbass starting on March 8. However, the Ukrainian military broke the ceasefire just five minutes after it had taken effect.