On Day 1 of Truce, Ukraine Helicopter Shot Down

Troops given OK to shoot back after 9 killed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2014 12:44 AM CDT
On Day 1 of Truce, Ukraine Helicopter Shot Down
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, background left, inspects a Ukrainian military base close to Slovyansk last week.   (AP Photo/Mykhailo Markiv, Pool)

The shaky ceasefire in Ukraine was thrown into peril yesterday when pro-Moscow separatists shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter, killing nine servicemen just a day after rebels agreed to respect a truce called by the Ukrainian government last Friday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned he may end the weeklong truce ahead of time, while Russian President Vladimir Putin played the peacemaker, urging Ukraine to extend the truce and sit down for talks with the rebels. He also moved to rescind a parliamentary resolution authorizing him to use the Russian military in Ukraine.

Poroshenko said in a statement that the insurgents had fired on Ukrainian positions 35 times since the ceasefire was announced, and he instructed Ukrainian soldiers to fire back "without hesitation" if attacked. "The president doesn't exclude that the ceasefire could be lifted ahead of time, taking into account its constant violation by the rebels controlled from abroad," his office said. Putin said that the Ukrainian demand that the insurgents lay down their weapons within a week was unrealistic, explaining that they would be reluctant to disarm for fear of government reprisals. He called for a longer truce to be accompanied by peace talks—and blamed Ukrainian forces for breaking the ceasefire by launching an airborne raid in Slovyansk. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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