Date
13 December 2017
President Petro Poroshenko chairs a meeting of his national security council to consider scrapping an autonomy law for rebel-held areas. Photo: Reuters
President Petro Poroshenko chairs a meeting of his national security council to consider scrapping an autonomy law for rebel-held areas. Photo: Reuters

Eastern Ukraine autonomy deal totters after rebel vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned Ukraine’s separatist election and said western sanctions against Russia must continue.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko threatened to scrap a law on greater autonomy underpinning an increasingly fragile ceasefire with the pro-Russian rebels, according to Bloomberg.

Poroshenko convened Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council to consider revoking the “special status” law that was part of the Sept. 5 truce deal amid warnings Russia is amassing military vehicles in rebel-held areas.

Merkel said she sees “no reason right now” to lift economic sanctions imposed on Russia, which “isn’t contributing yet as much as we would like” to resolve the crisis.

After Russia agreed to a peace plan in September, the parliament in Kiev approved laws that extend temporary autonomy to parts of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, allowing them to hold elections to appoint self-ruling bodies.

Ukraine scheduled the official poll for Dec. 7 while rebels loyal to Russia staged their own vote.

In a statement Tuesday, Poroshenko called the Nov. 2 ballot in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions a “farce that jeopardizes the entire peace process” and said Ukraine will never recognize their results.

The United States and the European Union blame Putin’s government for giving the insurgents artillery cover, weapons, cash and fighters.

Russia denies involvement.

Merkel said the sanctions are “unavoidable” as she acknowledged that German companies are being affected by the worst standoff with Moscow since the Cold War.

The Russian foreign ministry said it respects the results which provide a “mandate to the elected representatives to solve practical tasks and restore normal life in the regions”.

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