Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko both said they expect a cease-fire on Friday, as the NATO summit in Wales continues.
Poroshenko said that he will order the cease-fire as Ukrainian officials begin meeting with representatives from Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Friday in Minsk, with Zakharchenko following with his own order one hour later. If successful, this would be the first complete pause in fighting in months. (Previous cease-fires just applied to certain parts of contested regions.)
Of course, the only thing certain about the conflict in east Ukraine is that the facts on the ground change nonstop. Already, other rebel leaders have expressed doubt about the proposal, with another leader telling Interfax, “if there is a real cease-fire on their part, then maybe we will also cease fire.” Sounds promising.
Yet Poroshenko was so pleased about the impending pause in bloodshed, he even tweeted about it in Russian rather than Ukrainian — “Tomorrow, there will be a cease-fire!”:
Earlier this week, Russia president Vladimir Putin proposed his own “peace plan,” though government officials were quick to note that Russia could not agree to any cease-fires because it is most certainly not involved in the armed conflict — despite the fact that it is clearly is involved in the conflict.
And on Thursday, east Ukraine didn’t seem any closer to peace: