'Real truce' has begun in Ukraine - Poroshenko

  • 08/10/2015
President Petro Poroshenko (Reuters)
President Petro Poroshenko (Reuters)

President Petro Poroshenko says a "real truce" had begun in Ukraine but a long-lasting peace with pro-Russian insurgents would still take some time.

"There has not been a single shot fired. This is still not peace. This is not the end of the war," the pro-Western leader said in a televised address on Wednesday.

"The end of war will come when every patch of Ukrainian soil is liberated from the enemy, the occupant, the aggressor. But this is not simply a ceasefire - this is a real truce."

Poroshenko's comments to a group of military training students in Kiev came one day after the separatists delayed until next year local elections they planned for the coming weeks.

The conciliatory gesture came in response to strong Western pressure for Russian President Vladimir Putin - a nationalist leader who denies any involvement in Ukraine's affairs - to convince the militias to push back their vote.

Poroshenko had called the planned elections "fake" and branded them as another example of the eastern fighters' refusal to commit to a tacky February truce deal that was often broken but has been far more respected in the past month.

Russia and the European Union also welcomed the rebels' Tuesday announcement because it gave time for the elections to be conducted in conformity with Ukrainian and international laws.

No firm date for the local votes in Lugansk and Donetsk had yet been set.

Ukrainian forces on Tuesday began withdrawing tanks from the demarcation line with Lugansk - one of the two industrial republics resisting Kiev's pro-EU leadership.

A spokesman for the Lugansk insurgents told Russia's TASS-agency that his side had also moved smaller weapons 15 kilometres away from a demarcation line separating pro-Russian forces from the rest of the ex-Soviet state.

Both pullbacks conformed to a new deal signed by the warring sides on September 1.

Fighters of the larger and more militant Donetsk province are to begin pulling back their tanks and smaller weapons on October 18.

Poroshenko said his meeting with Putin and the leaders of Germany and France in Paris on Friday "helped us if not necessarily end, then at least firmly pause the conflict's active phase".