With Ukrainian cease-fire over, government goes back on offensive

The Associated PressJuly 1, 2014 

— Ukrainian officials say they have renewed a military offensive against armed pro-Russia separatists after the country’s president called off a unilateral cease-fire.

The Defense Ministry said Ukrainian forces “carried out strikes from the air and on land” Tuesday morning against separatist positions in eastern Ukraine.

Military spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkovsky said forces “opened artillery fire, carried out air strikes at the strategic points of the terrorists and places where they are concentrated,” the Interfax news agency reported.

Dmytrashkovsky said one service member was killed and 17 wounded over the past 24 hours in rebel attacks and an Su-25 attack aircraft was damaged.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday said he was abandoning a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists and sending military forces back on the offensive after talks with Russia and European leaders failed to start a broader peace process.

Poroshenko’s decision, announced shortly after the much-violated 10-day cease-fire expired, raises the prospect of renewed escalation of a conflict that has killed more than 400 people.

A grave Poroshenko made a televised address early Tuesday vowing that “we will attack, and we will free our country.” The cease-fire expired at 10 p.m. Monday.

There was no immediate sign of a response from Russia early Tuesday.

The idea behind the truce announced June 20 was to give pro-Russian rebels a chance to disarm and to start a broader peace process including an amnesty and new elections. Poroshenko, a wealthy candy magnate elected May 25, had already extended the cease-fire from seven days.

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