KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he was abandoning a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists and sending military forces back on the offensive after talks with Russia and European leaders failed to start a broader peace process.
Poroshenko’s decision, announced shortly after the much-violated 10-day cease-fire expired, raises the prospect of renewed escalation of a conflict that has killed more than 400 people.
There was no immediate sign of a response from Russia early Tuesday.
The idea behind the truce announced June 20 was to give pro-Russian rebels a chance to disarm and to start a broader peace process including an amnesty and new elections. Poroshenko, a wealthy candy magnate elected May 25, had already extended the cease-fire from seven days.
But rebels did not disarm, and the cease-fire was continually violated, with both sides blaming each other. Rebels called the cease-fire fake and did not yield to Poroshenko’s latest push to get them to turn over key border crossings with Russia and permit international monitoring.
“The unique chance to put the peace plan into practice was not realized,” Poroshenko said. “This happened because of the criminal actions of the fighters.” He said the militants violated the truce “more than a hundred times.”