Ukraine announced Saturday it would suspend operations against separatists in its volatile eastern cities over Easter, where pro-Russia militants have occupied government buildings in defiance of the interim government in Kiev.
Kiev has said it will resume military operations if the separatists do not withdraw, but would hold its forces back for the meantime. “The anti-terrorist operation was put on hold for the Easter time and we will be not using force against them at this moment,” foreign minister Andriy Deshchytsia said, the BBC reports.
The militants remain despite an agreement reached Thursday to defuse the crisis in which Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US said illegal military groups in Ukraine should be disbanded and those occupying government buildings must leave.
Separatists in the city of Donetsk said the Kiev government is “illegal”, and have vowed not to disarm until the government resigns.
The White House has ramped up pressure on Russia to use its influence over Ukrainian separatists and order them to disband, threatening further economic sanctions against Moscow if the crisis is not defused. Thousands of Russian troops have amassed at the border, as hostilities have escalated following the revolution that overturned a pro-Russia government earlier this year.
Kiev launched “anti-terrorist” operations against the militants in the East last week in an effort to dislodge separatist fighters.