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Ukraine cease-fire real, president says

By Agence France-Presse in Sydney | China Daily | Updated: 2014-12-13 08:05

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Friday that a "real" cease-fire was in place in Ukraine, following the first 24 hours in seven months without a military casualty, although he admitted the truce was fragile.

"I have positive news. Today is the first 24 hours for seven months ... when we have a real cease-fire in Ukraine," Poroshenko said in a speech during a trip to Australia. "You simply can't imagine how important it is for me. This is the first night when I don't have either a lost or wounded Ukrainian soldier."

The cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels was introduced on Tuesday in hopes of ending an eight-month conflict that has claimed at least 4,300 lives and displaced close to a million people.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said on Thursday that three soldiers were killed and eight injured a day earlier.

But Poroshenko said the last 24 hours had passed without incident, and if the cease-fire held it would be "a great step for peace and stability".

But he warned it had only been one day.

"Everything is so fragile. But I pray that we should continue this process," he said. "And if we will be united, we will win, no doubt - not win by military means, but we will launch a political dialogue, bring peace, bring stability to my nation, to the continent and to the whole world."

The process is being closely watched in Europe, where concerns over Russia's support for the rebels has plunged East-West relations to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

The two sides - along with Russian and European monitors - are still trying to organize comprehensive peace talks.

Poroshenko added that the conflict in his homeland was not just about Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity.

"This is a war for freedom, global freedom. This is a war for democracy, global democracy. And this is the war for security, global security," he said.

(China Daily 12/13/2014 page12)

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