Ukraine agrees to 'permanent truce' with rebels in the east

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 3, 2014

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko announced on Wednesday that his government had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on a "permanent ceasefire" with rebels.

"Their conversation resulted in agreement on a permanent ceasefire in the Donbass region [the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk]," his office said.

The peace agreement was announced by Mr Poroshenko's office in a statement on the president’s website.

"They reached a mutual understanding on steps leading to peace," it said.

However, the Russian government said Putin had not agreed to the ceasefire himself as Russia was not party to the conflict.

In a statement (in Russian), the Kremlin said a phone conversation had taken place on Wednesday between the two presidents in which their points of view had "coincided significantly" on possible ways to end the crisis.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Russian news agency Ria-Novosti: "Putin and Poroshenko did not agree a ceasefire in Ukraine because Russia is not party to the conflict, they only discussed how to settle the conflict."

More than 2 600 civilians and combatants have been killed and more than a million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine in April, when pro-Russian separatists declared independence.

Since the fighting started Russia has had to deny accusations by the West and the Ukrainian government that it was giving military support - troops and equipment, to the separatists, who in recently turned the tide of the war and gained the upper hand against government forces.

Photo caption: Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko announced on Wednesday that his government had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on a "permanent ceasefire" with rebels. Photo courtesy of techsonia.