Rebels Agree to Cease-Fire in Ukraine

Move indicates a softening by the insurgents

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jun 23, 2014 5:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine agreed today to respect a cease-fire declared by the Ukrainian president, raising hopes for an end to months of fighting that have killed hundreds and ravaged the country's industrial heartland. The announcement came as the Russian and US presidents traded demands over the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin urged direct talks between the government and the rebels. President Barack Obama warned Putin that Moscow will face additional costs if it does not help ease the crisis.

The insurgents' pledge to respect the cease-fire came on the first day of talks between a former Ukrainian president, the Russian ambassador, European officials, and the eastern separatists who have declared independence. While the government side was nominally not represented, ex-President Leonid Kuchma attended the discussions at the request of the sitting president. The insurgents had previously demanded the Ukrainian military withdraw its troops from the east as a condition for any talks, so Borodai's statement represented a softened stance that raised expectations that the cease-fire could hold. The government said that there has been no fighting in the east since Monday morning. Click for more.

Volunteers line up to take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, during a ceremony to take the oath of allegiance to Ukraine, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, June 23, 2014.   (Sergei Chuzavkov)
Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, 2nd left, OSCE Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, center, and Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, 2nd right, in the Ukraine, Monday, June 23, 2014.   (Dmitry Lovetsky)
A girl says goodbye to her friend, a volunteer, before volunteers were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, June 23, 2014.   (Sergei Chuzavkov)
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