Ukraine announces week-long ceasefire in fight against separatists

KIEV Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:23pm IST

A religious image is hung on a back of an armed pro-Russian separatist guarding the regional administration headquarters in Luhansk June 18, 2014.   REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

A religious image is hung on a back of an armed pro-Russian separatist guarding the regional administration headquarters in Luhansk June 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday announced a week-long ceasefire in the fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, his website said.

But he said government forces should defend themselves if, during that time, they came under attack from the rebels.

"Ukrainian army, cease fire!" it quoted him as telling military officers during a visit to the centre of the "anti-terrorist operation" in the east.

"But this does not mean that we will not fight back in the event of aggression towards our military. We will do everything to defend the territory of our state," the website quoted him as adding.

Poroshenko, who has said the declaration of a ceasefire will allow him formally to launch a peace plan for the region, spoke after receiving a report from an army commander that the border with Russia was defended.

Ukraine has said that the separatist unrest has been fomented by Moscow and that separatist rebels have been supported and armed by volunteer fighters from Russia, though this is denied by the Kremlin.

(reporting by Pavel Polityuk; writing by Richard Balmforth; editing by Andrew Roche)

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