Ukraine’s parliament approved a law giving special status to the country’s two easternmost regions while a cease-fire, now in its 11th day, came under threat as some separatists called for a resumption of fighting.
The parliament in Kiev approved the special status bill and an amnesty law envisaged in the cease-fire agreement, Deputy Speaker Ruslan Koshulynskiy said by phone today. Under the measure, certain areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists will hold early local elections on Dec. 7, enjoy a special economic and investment regime and have the right to use Russian as a second official language.
The situation in Donetsk remains “tense” after one civilian was killed today and the city council reported intensive military operations in two of its districts. The clashes are throwing the Sept. 5 cease-fire into further doubt. The U.S. and other NATO allies began military exercises yesterday in Ukraine, which says Russia has about 25,000 troops along the border and more than 3,000 soldiers inside the country. The government in Moscow denies involvement in the conflict.
The drills have “the potential to lead to a destabilization of the situation,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in a phone interview. “The truce is very fragile. It is just the start of the settlement. Russia consistently continues to do all it can to help promote the resolution of Ukraine’s internal crisis.”
Photographer: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images
People walk in a market gallery destroyed by shelling in the Kievsky district in… Read More
Pro-Russian rebels earlier today suggested combining the forces in Luhansk and Donetsk and switching “to offensive tactics,” according to their address to separatist leaders posted on the Donetsk separatists’ website.