Ukraine halts operations against protestors over Easter

London, April 19: Ukraine has suspended its anti-terrorist operations against pro-Russian protestors over Easter and will resume them if they continued to occupy government offices, media reported Saturday.

“The anti-terrorist operation has been put on hold for the Easter time and we will not be using force against them at this moment,” BBC quoted Ukraine Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia as saying.

Pro-Russian protestors in eastern Ukraine continue to occupy official buildings in at least nine cities and towns, and a majority of them are armed.

The US Friday threatened additional sanctions against Russia in case it failed to help calm down the tense situation in eastern Ukraine.

“We expect and we will be watching whether Russia does or does not uphold its responsibility to use its very considerable influence to restrain and withdraw those irregular militia from the buildings and spaces that they’ve occupied,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice told a White House press briefing.

“If we don’t see action commensurate with the commitments that Russia has made yesterday in Geneva, which we all welcome, then obviously we’ve been very clear that we and our European partners remain ready to impose additional costs on Russia for failing to adhere to its obligations,” she said.

To which Russia responded by saying that it was disappointed with the US’s assessment of the Geneva deal.

“You can’t treat Russia like a guilty schoolboy who has not done his homework,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said.

The European Union (EU), Russia, the US and Ukraine Thursday began talks in Geneva to discuss the ongoing crisis in the former Soviet republic.

All the sides agreed during the talks that armed protestors in Ukraine must be disarmed and asked to leave the government buildings at once.

The leaders also agreed on granting amnesty to all anti-government protestors.

Russia denies fomenting separatism in eastern and southern Ukraine.

IANS