DONETSK, Ukraine April 19, 2014 -- Ukraine suspended the "active stage" of its "anti-terrorist operation" in the eastern part of its country today, citing the Easter holidays and Geneva Agreement as the reason, according to its Ministry of Defense.
Last Sunday, Ukraine's acting president announced the military operation to take back areas seized by pro-Russian forces. So far, the only success the operation has seen was taking back an airfield.
Ukrainian troops have defected to the pro-Russian side along with their tanks and armored personnel carriers, while near the town of Kramatorsk a column of APCs was blocked by local civilians.
Maryna Ostapenko, a press secretary for Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, said in a statement that the anti-terrorist operation would continue but it would no longer be active.
"The efforts are currently focused on securing the safety perimeter around armed separatists in order to avoid having victims amongst peaceful population,” she said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped Russia will not have to use force in eastern Ukraine. He also denied Western claims that Russian troops are already operating inside Ukraine and that the unrest there has been orchestrated by the Kremlin, warning that if the situation continued, Russia will not recognize the results of next month’s Ukrainian presidential election.
Secretary of State John Kerry struck a deal in Geneva with his Russian, Ukrainian and European counterparts on Thursday, agreeing that "illegal armed groups" would put down their weapons and leave occupied buildings. But it has changed little to nothing on the ground; pro-Russia protestors in eastern Ukraine have refused to vacate the seized buildings until, they say, the government in Kiev - which they view as "criminal" - does the same.