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Ukraine leader declares week-long ceasefire in east

Published on Jun 21, 2014 11:53 AM
Ukrainian servicemen stand at the military camp near the town of Svyatogorsk in Eastern Ukraine, on June 20, 2014. Russia said a ceasefire announced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday was not a peace offer but an ultimatum to pro-Russian separatists, Russian news agencies cited the Kremlin press service as saying. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SLOVYANOGIRSK, Ukraine (AFP) - Ukraine's new Western-backed president on Friday declared a week-long unilateral ceasefire and unveiled a sweeping plan for curbing a pro-Russian insurgency that killed 13 more soldiers in fierce clashes in the eastern rustbelt.

But both the Kremlin and a senior rebel commander immediately rejected Mr Petro Poroshenko's proposals for ending the battles that have claimed the lives of more than 375 people and left the ex-Soviet country on the verge of splitting in two.

US President Barack Obama, French counterpart Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the unilateral ceasefire announcement while warning of further possible steps to "impose costs on Russia" if Moscow fails to de-escalate the situation, the White House said.

Mr Obama spoke separately with Dr Merkel and Mr Hollande on Friday and the three leaders stressed the need for Russia to pull back its "destabilising presence" from the border, a White House official added.

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