President Petro Poroshenko on Monday proposed a series of major concessions to end the uprising by pro-Russian rebels in restive eastern Ukraine, offering the separatists a broad amnesty and special self-governance status for territories they occupy.
The proposal also includes protections for the Russian language and would allow the separatist-controlled regions to elect their own judges, create their own police forces and cultivate deeper ties to Russia — while remaining part of Ukraine.
It would effectively formalize a concession of power to the rebels after sweeping military setbacks in August and September forced Poroshenko to sue for peace. Although Ukraine appeared on the verge of ending the rebel uprising weeks ago, a reinvigorated separatist campaign — which Ukraine and NATO claim has been backed by Russian arms and troops — left the Ukrainians facing devastating losses. Russia denies aiding the rebels.
Contained in a draft bill that Poroshenko has submitted to parliament, the proposal fleshed out a cease-fire deal reached with the rebels earlier this month and provided the most complete view yet of just how far Kiev may be willing to go to end an uprising that has cost almost 3,000 lives since April.
Poroshenko’s offer came as the truce, which entered its 10th day Monday, was already fraying, with intense fighting in pockets of the east now threatening to destroy the cease-fire. On Monday, mortar rounds continued to strike residential neighborhoods in the city of Donetsk a day after two vehicles carrying international observers were struck by shrapnel.