David Mchugh
June 30, 2014

Ukraine’s president faces decision on cease-fire

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko faces a decision Monday on whether to extend a shaky cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east, as European leaders press Russia to help de-escalate the simmering conflict.

National security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the presidential decision would come before the cease-fire’s expiration at 10 p.m (1900 GMT, 3 p.m. EDT).

Poroshenko has already extended the cease-fire from seven days to 10 as he presses for the fulfillment of conditions to move forward with a peace plan to end the conflict that has killed more than 400 people.

Those conditions include the return of control points on the border with Russia to Ukrainian control and the entrance of international monitors to verify the cease-fire.

European leaders have pressed Russia to help de-escalate the situation or face the possibility of additional economic sanctions. A four-way phone call was to take place Monday among Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Merkel’s spokesman said.

The four also spoke for two hours Sunday as Poroshenko pushed to get his peace plan past a wobbly start. Ukraine says rebels continue to attack, and protesters gathered near Poroshenko’s office Sunday in Kiev demanding military action against them.

Poroshenko has said the unilateral cease-fire is a first step to give rebels a chance to lay down their arms. Further steps would include an amnesty for separatists who have not committed serious crimes, early local elections, and changes in the constitution to decentralize power to the regions.

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