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Ukraine supports peace, but ready for war: Poroshenko

PTI 05 Nov 2014, 9:40:13 AM IST

Kiev: Ukraine remains committed to a peace process with pro-Russian separatists, but is rearming and prepared for war should they attempt to launch a new offensive, President Petro Poroshenko said today.

Speaking at the start of a crisis meeting of security chiefs in the capital Kiev, Poroshenko said that he had not given up on a deal brokered in September to end the seven-month conflict, in which more than 4,000 people have died.

"Ukraine remains a firm supporter of the peace plan," Poroshenko said. However, "other participants" of the Russian-supported truce accord are not meeting their obligations, he said, referring to Moscow and the rebels.

Poroshenko warned that Ukraine's military was ready for any separatist attempt to expand the territory they control -- as they have repeatedly threatened to do.

"We are obliged as the Ukrainian state not to allow the spread of this cancerous tumour, to ensure the blockade of this territory," he told his National Security and Defence Council.

The meeting was called after separatists staged leadership elections that were backed by Russia, but condemned by Ukraine, the United States, EU powers, and the head of the United Nations.

Poroshenko said the "pseudo" elections on Sunday had "torpedoed" a key provision of the September peace deal in which rebels would be given wide autonomy, while preserving Ukraine's integrity.

The September accord -- signed by Ukraine, the rebels, Russia and the European security body OSCE in Minsk -- was meant to pave the way for a ceasefire and ultimately a political settlement.

But Poroshenko said he was now considering scrapping the autonomy offer, a measure at the heart of the whole peace plan.

Constant ceasefire violations have already undermined the truce, with fighting breaking out again Tuesday near the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

In the two rebel enclaves in the east, the Kremlin-backed leaders added to the trappings of statehood with post-election inaugurations.

At a swearing-in ceremony in Donetsk's main theatre, separatist chief Alexander Zakharchenko -- a former electrician who was already undisputed rebel commander -- took an oath on a Bible "to serve the people."

In neighbouring Lugansk, Igor Plotnitsky -- a burly ex-Soviet army officer -- was also confirmed as rebel supremo there, Russian media reported.