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Ukraine crisis Burkhalter ‘not optimistic’ about Ukraine ceasefire

Ukrainian soldiers man a check point on a road in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Monday

(Keystone)

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter says he does not have much confidence in the Ukraine ceasefire, saying it was not enough just to have a cessation of hostilities but both sides must push for political solution. 

Burkhalter, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), was asked on Monday whether he was optimistic about the ceasefire clinched between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists. 

“I'm not optimistic at all. I’ve not been optimistic at all since the beginning,” he told the Swiss foreign correspondents associationexternal link in Geneva. “It can work if one wants. The different actors must really push for a breakthrough.” 

“A ceasefire alone is not enough,” Burkhalter said, adding, however, that it should be given a chance. 

‘Shaky’ 

The ceasefire, which took effect on Friday evening, was largely holding on Monday in eastern Ukraine, although Kiev accused the rebels of sporadic violations overnight, especially near the port of Mariupol. 

The ceasefire is part of a peace plan intended to end a five-month conflict, which the United Nations’ human rights envoy said on Monday had killed more than 3,000 people. It has also caused the sharpest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. 

The plan envisages an exchange of prisoners, and on Monday a senior separatist leader was quoted as saying the rebels expected an “all-for-all” exchange on Wednesday. 

“Overall the ceasefire held even though it is still shaky,” Switzerland’s Thomas Greminger, current OSCE chair, said, adding that the next days would be crucial.

swissinfo.ch

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