Ukraine's Poroshenko Extends Donbass Ceasefire
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has extended the truce offered to pro-Russian rebels, which was to end Friday, until the end of June.
Administrations at the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic" have generally agreed to hold on to the ceasefire, despite internal divisions, RIA Novosti quotes their officials as saying.
His decisions comes as talks kicked off Friday between activists and Kiev representatives, with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma acting as a state envoy.
Brokered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), negotiations are part of what Poroshenko describes as a "peace plan" to deescalate the situation in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Steps in the plan include measures to decentralize Ukraine and holding early local and general polls.
Separatists, who have taken over the administration in a number of towns and cities, are divided over the truce, with some accepting to observe it and other rejecting it completely.
Russia believes arms should be laid down permanently if Ukraine wants to wind down tensions.
Europe, on the other hand, has issued a three-day ultimatum for Russia to take steps related to the peace plan and has promised to act if Moscow refuses to do so.
UN estimates cited by the BBC show over 420 people have died as a result of the conflict since it started in April.