Ukraine begins military offensive as cease-fire ends - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Ukraine begins military offensive as cease-fire ends


By Laura Smith-Spark

LONDON (CNN) -- Ukrainian forces began military operations in the east of the country Tuesday, marking a definite end to a unilateral ceasefire which had been in place for 10 days.

The speaker of Ukraine's Parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, told lawmakers the government's "anti-terror operation" against pro-Russia separatists had been "renewed."

Ukrainian armed forces have been conducting "attacks on terrorists' bases and defended posts," he said.

The announcement came hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that his country would not renew a cease-fire with the separatists, vowing instead to "attack and liberate our land."

"Termination of ceasefire is our response to terrorists, insurgents, marauders ... and (those who) deprive people of normal peaceful life," Poroshenko said.

The fragile cease-fire expired at midnight Monday -- hours after Poroshenko spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Poroshenko also talked on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The cease-fire -- agreed on last month amid a volatile political crisis -- raised hopes that Ukraine could be moving back from the brink of full-fledged civil war.

'Enemies and invaders'

Poroshenko declared the cease-fire was over in a late-night televised address.

In Kiev's Maidan Square, activists outside the presidential administration building applauded Poroshenko's stance.

"We need only military actions," a priest named Valentyn said in a Reuters interview. "We were forced by those who entered our country as enemies and invaders."

The crisis has its roots in former President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to shun a European Union Association Agreement last year and work with Russia instead. The move unleashed deadly strife that led to Yanukovych's ouster, Ukraine's loss of Crimea and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion.

Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a tense standoff since the Russian annexation of Crimea in March, when Russia also massed troops along its western border with Ukraine.

After Monday's phone call, Poroshenko said his goal was peace, but insisted it takes the participation of all parties to maintain stability, noting violations of the cease-fire by pro-Russian separatists.

The Ukrainian government "has been completely fulfilling its commitments and unilaterally complying with the ceasefire regime for 10 days and paid dozens of lives for that," he said.

'Bloody truce'

Activist Vadym told Reuters there's no point in continuing the cease-fire.

"There is definitely no need for an extension of the truce," he said. "Because a lot of our boys died during this truce."

Fellow activist Yulia agreed.

"Bloody military actions are better than such bloody truce," she said. "We must put an end to it once and that's all."

A statement from Putin's press office about the call said the Russian President "stressed the need to extend the cease-fire and also establish a reliable mechanism for monitoring" it.

CNN's Radina Gigova contributed to this report.


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