KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday pro-Russian separatists had violated a ceasefire in the east of the country by firing an anti-tank missile and wounding four soldiers, even as President Petro Poroshenko hailed a “real truce”.
The ceasefire has been holding in recent weeks and an agreement to extend a pullback of weapons from the frontline has spurred hopes for the fragile peace process.
“Today illegal armed groups, cynically ignoring the peace agreements, violated the ceasefire ... The fighters carried out an attack with an anti-tank missile,” the Ukrainian military said in a Facebook post.
The attack undermines earlier comments by Poroshenko, who said the recent lull in fighting heralded a new phase in Ukraine’s efforts to quell the separatist uprising.
“We managed to pause the hot phase of the conflict. The main thing is that we managed to cease hostilities ... It is not just a ceasefire already. It is a real truce,” he said in a speech to a military academy in Kiev.
However he did caution that the conflict, in which more than 8,000 people have died since April 2014, was not over.
“It is somewhat a new reality, but you should stay on your guard, victory is still far away. We must not only return the Donbass (east Ukraine) but also defend the whole of Ukraine,” he said.
Separatists did not immediately respond to Kiev’s accusation but they have reported occasional violations of the ceasefire from the Ukrainian side in the past two weeks.
Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Gareth Jones