Ukraine accuses separatists of breaching new ceasefire

KIEV (AFP) – Moscow-backed separatists yesterday breached a tense ceasefire in eastern Ukraine just hours after it began, the Ukrainian army said, but the separatists denied the accusation.

The ceasefire came into force last Sunday and had been agreed last week by negotiators from Ukraine, Russia and the international monitor group OSCE.

The Ukrainian army said an order had been issued to comply with a “full and comprehensive ceasefire”.

Separatists violated the new truce shortly after it came into force, the Ukrainian army said, adding that there were no casualties despite shelling with small arms, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.

But representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said Kiev claims were “yet another act of information provocation by the Ukrainian side, aimed at destabilising the situation.” They said that the DPR was “strictly following the commitments” in the ceasefire.

Under the terms of the agreement, the use of any weapons, including small arms, is prohibited.

Commander of the Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation Volodymyr Kravchenko told journalists in the breakaway Donetsk region that “our units continue to keep silent”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the new agreement “a significant step towards strengthening mutual trust and defusing tensions”.

“It will be important for both parties to fully adhere to their obligations and agreements,” Peskov told journalists.