DONETSK -- Less than 24 hours after a government helicopter was shot down in eastern Ukraine killing nine, Aleksandr Boroday, prime minister of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said it was not the insurgents who broke the short-lived truce in eastern Ukraine.
Boroday said at a press conference that separatists, including commander of Sloviansk Igor Strelkov (Girkin), stuck to the truce agreements achieved on June 23-24.
“I called Igor Strelkov, who heard about consultations and asked whether we were going to stop shelling. I told him yes, we are stopping it as we have truce,” Boroday said. “In several hours he reached me again and said that he is being shelled. He said that the warfare is going on and he has to respond.”
His account of events is very different from that of the government, though.
The government said that less than a day after the agreement was reached on June 23, the separatists attacked the Ukrainian soldiers, killing one of them. The last hopes on peace agreements faded on June 24, when the rebels shot the Ukrainian military helicopter near Sloviansk city.
Originally, the ceasefire deal was supposed to last through June 27. It was initiated by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and reached after hours of negotiations in Donetsk on June 23.
Vladislav Seleznev, spokesman of Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation, wrote on his Facebook page late on June 24 that separatists broke ceasefire 44 times.
Boroday said that any consultations on ceasefire and contacts with Ukraine’s government representatives were stopped for the moment.
“We are seeking peace. But for now it all seems meaningless. I don’t see any real will to reach peace from the side of authorities in Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk,” he said.
He added that the consultations, where apart from separatists’ leaders, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, pro-Russian politician and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian ambassador Mikhail Zurabov and OSCE special envoy to Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini participated, happened only because Kyiv authorities wanted to look as peacemakers in Europe before signing of association agreement with the EU on June 27.
“I think after June 27 they will try to conduct a military operation against us,” he said.
Boroday, who is a Russian national, said he was hoping that Russian troops would come to Ukraine’s east “at least as UN peacekeepers.”
But Russia's legislature, the Duma, revoked its permission to President Vladimir Putin to send peace-keeping forces to Ukraine. Many in Ukraine speculated that this was just a ploy to avoid a new round of western sanctions, though.
Boroday also said there was progress in negotiations on release of eight OSCE observers who are now kept as hostages in Luhansk region and that they would be released soon. “This will happen in nearest days,” he said. They have been kept prisoners for a month.
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