According to an announcement on his website, Ukraine’s President, Petro O. Poroshenko reached an agreement with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin on Wednesday for a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.
However, the Kremlin said that while Poroshenko and Putin did discuss how to resolve the conflict, no cease-fire agreement has yet been achieved. There was no immediate word from Russia-backed separatists in the mainly Russian-speaking region, which is home to much of Ukraine’s heavy industry.
“Mutual understanding was achieved concerning the steps which will enable the establishment of peace,” Poroshenko’s press office said.
But on the other hand the Russian spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, gave no details and made no direct reference to a ceasefire. The Russian leader and Poroshenko had largely agreed in their telephone conversation on what needed to be done to resolve Ukraine’s six-month-old crisis. “In the course of today’s phone call between Putin and Poroshenko there was indeed an exchange of views that went a long way toward an agreement on steps to be taken for a swift end to the clashes taking place between the Ukrainian military and south-eastern uprising,” Peskov said.
While conciliatory statements from Russia haven’t necessarily resulted in past de-escalation of the conflict, this is Poroshenko’s most definitive statement yet on progress in finding a solution to the conflict.
Just like Putin stated last week, the spokesperson thought it important to point out that because the conflict is an internal one, no other parties should be involved in it whatsoever. “Frankly speaking, we can’t frame the discussion in ceasefire terms, those concerning any possible negotiations between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk – this isn’t any of our business, it is Ukraine’s,” the Russian president said then.
Ukraine, the U.S. and Europe all accuse Russia of purposely dispatching soldiers and backing pro-Russian rebels in a fighting that the United Nations estimates has cost at least 2,600 lives. Russia, which is facing further sanctions as early as this week over the unrest, has repeatedly denied involvement. Besides the victims, a million people have also been displaced, majorly to Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that sanctions needed to be strengthened to stop Russia from sending troops into countries and changing borders in Europe. “In my opinion, this is a much bigger risk than accepting certain disadvantages for businesses during a limited period,” Merkel told reporters. “I believe it is necessary to prepare such sanctions and that possible disadvantages in no way outweigh those resulting from doing nothing,” she added.
However EU and the U.S. are unable to impose all possible sanctions at once as they need to keep some measures in reserve in case of any worsening of the situation.