Ukraine military says it has suspended combat operations in east, preparing for truce day

A Ukrainian artilleryman carries a shell past spent shell cases at their position near the eastern Ukrainian village of Pisky on Dec 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A Ukrainian artilleryman carries a shell past spent shell cases at their position near the eastern Ukrainian village of Pisky on Dec 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian government forces suspended combat operations in the east on Tuesday in preparation for a 'Day of Silence', the Kiev military said, an effective truce on the front line of the conflict with separatist rebels.

"The Ukrainian military have suspended all combat actions and are ready for the Day of Silence, but if separatists attack we will fire in response," a military spokesman told Reuters by telephone.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the "contact group" on Ukraine would meet soon to discuss the implementation of measures to uphold a ceasefire plan in eastern Ukraine. "In the coming days, a meeting of the contact group is planned, in which will be discussed a plan ... with the aim of a final ceasefire," RIA news agency quoted Mr Lavrov as saying.

The contact group, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has held several rounds of talks, including one on Sept 5, which agreed a ceasefire in Ukraine that is now all but dead.