President Petro Poroshenko promised yesterday to introduce a Bill to the Ukrainian parliament next week that would offer greater autonomy to eastern regions.
But he insisted that the regions would remain part of Ukraine and rejected the idea of federalisation, something both Russia and rebel fighters have continued to push for even after a ceasefire agreement took effect on Friday.
The agreement, which was reached at talks in Minsk, “envisages the restoration and preservation of Ukrainian sovereignty over the entire territory of Donbass, including the part that is temporarily under control of the rebels,” Mr Poroshenko claimed during a televised Cabinet meeting.
“Ukraine has made no concessions with regards to its territorial integrity.”
The president claimed that 70 per cent of the Russian troops he alleged had been on Ukrainian territory had been withdrawn since the ceasefire began.
He also said that 700 Ukrainian prisoners had been freed from rebel captivity and expressed hope that another 500 would be freed by the end of the week.
But he also said that “implementing the ceasefire is very difficult,” and accused the rebels of “provoking” Kiev’s troops.
There have been numerous violations of the ceasefire and Ukraine said that five soldiers had been killed and 33 injured since Friday.
Mr Poroshenko was vague on the specifics of his Bill in his speech.
But a previous peace plan laid out in June enshrined protection of the Russian language, joint patrols of federal and local police and allowing local representatives to give their approval for governors.
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