Russia applauds Ukraine law
On Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision by Ukraine's parliament to grant special status to two separatist regions. However, the agency warned that changing or revoking the law, passed Tuesday, would escalate the conflict and undermine peace efforts.
"In Russia this document is considered as a step in the right direction which corresponds to the spirit of agreements cemented in the Geneva declaration between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and European Union from April 17 of this year, as well as the Berlin declaration from July 2 of this year," the Foreign Ministry announced in a statement. "We expect that all stipulations of the law will be implemented in a responsible manner."
The measure comes after a truce went into effect on September 5. However, fighting continued just a day after Ukraine's parliament granted the greater autonomy.
Shelling in the city of Donetsk killed two people Wednesday and wounded three others, municipal authorities said. Ukraine's military also announced that several people had been "killed and wounded" in overnight skirmishes.
'Return to reality'
President Petro Poroshenko has said the peace plan and self-rule legislation mean that Ukraine is "now approaching a point at which people stop dying in the east and finally … have the chance to elect their own leaders." He added that "we will have to come to an understanding with these leaders, bringing people peace, calm and harmony."
Andrei Purgin, the deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, has described the autonomy legislation as a "positive signal because it marks Kyiv's return to reality."
More than 2,900 people have been killed and 600,000 more forced to flee their homes in five months of fighting between separatists and government forces, according to UN figures. Amid the continuing unrest, Ukraine's prime minister told government forces on Wednesday to go on full battle alert.
"Russia will not give us peace so I am asking the defense minister for full battle readiness," Arseniy Yatsenyuk said. The plan agreed to by Poroshenko did not mean "relaxing the work of the Defense and Interior ministries," Yatsenyuk added: "We can't believe anyone, especially the Russians."
mkg/ rc(Reuters, AFP, AP)