KIEV, July 8 (RIA Novosti) — Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletei on Tuesday said there will be no unilateral ceasefire from the army and negotiations will be held only after independence supporters lay down their weapons.
“The Ukrainian president has firmly announced this. Negotiations of any type now are possible only after the fighters finally lay down their weapons," Heletei was quoted as saying by the ministry’s press service.
The ministry said “there would be no unilateral ceasefire from the Ukrainian divisions operating in the anti-terrorist operation."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a ten-day ceasefire in the country's southeastern regions at the end of June. The ceasefire had no real effect and clashes in the region have only grown more violent.
Over the weekend, Ukrainian security forces gained control of several cities in the country’s east, namely Slaviansk, Kramatorsk, Artemivsk and Druzhkivka. The bulk of the independence forces, who refused to recognize the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new authorities, have retreated to Donetsk and Luhansk.
Kiev is pressing on with its special military operation in the east of the country, launched in mid-April to suppress the local independence supporters. The savage crackdown has already claimed hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee from southeastern Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s actions and urged for peace in the region, insisting that resolving the crisis in Ukraine is only possible given a complete end to the violence.