KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said early today that he was abandoning a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists and sending military forces back on the offensive after talks with Russia and European leaders failed to start a broader peace process.
His decision, announced shortly after the much-violated 10-day cease-fire expired Monday, raises the prospect of renewed escalation of a conflict that has killed more than 400 people.
A grave Poroshenko made a televised address today vowing that "we will attack, and we will free our country."
There was no sign of a response from Russia.
The idea behind the truce announced June 20 was to give pro-Russian rebels a chance to disarm and to start a broader peace process, including an amnesty and new elections. Poroshenko, a wealthy candy magnate elected May 25, had already extended the cease-fire from seven days.
But rebels did not disarm, and the cease-fire was continually violated, with both sides blaming each other. Rebels called the cease-fire fake.
"The unique chance to put the peace plan into practice was not realized," Poroshenko said. "This happened because of the criminal actions of the fighters."
Poroshenko said the government was ready to go back to the cease-fire "at any moment, when we see that all sides are keeping to the basic points of the peace plan."
Poroshenko's decision followed four-way talks in search of a solution with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Monday as the deadline approached. He issued a statement after the talks ended, saying the key conditions needed to continue the cease-fire had not been met.
European leaders and the United States have urged Russia to use its influence with the rebels to ease the bloodshed and have threatened to impose another round of economic sanctions against Moscow.