Ukraine crisis: Kiev calls Easter truce with pro-Russian separatists in east during Christian holiday

Vladimir Putin meanwhile has announced he will be awarding medals to Russians who took part in the capture of Crimea

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The Independent Online

Operations against pro-Russian separatists by Ukrainian forces have been suspended over Easter, Ukraine’s foreign minister has said.

It is however not entirely clear what operations he was referring too as movement against the separatists by Ukrainian forces since a push was announced earlier this week have been seemingly limited.

Pro-Russian militants continue to have a strong grip over government buildings in over ten cities in east Ukraine and have refused to leave until the interim government in Kiev resigns.

“The anti-terrorist operation was put on hold for the Easter time and we will be not using force against them at this moment,” foreign minister Andriy Deshchytsia told the BBC.

He added that military action will be resumed next week if the separatists do not leave the occupied building, with operations aimed at “bringing life back to normal and protect the population”.

The separatists have remained in the buildings in defiance to an agreement reached between the interim government in Kiev, Russia, the US and EU reached in Kiev, asserting that the government in Kiev is to occupying buildings.

Washington has threatened further sanctions on Russia if it does not work to use its perceived influence over the separatists to get them to  leave the buildings.

Hitting back at the warning, Vladimir Putin's spokesperson said: “You can't treat Russia like a guilty schoolboy”.

Russia's foreign ministry on Saturday did however promise it would offer strong assistance to Ukraine to overcome the crisis, but emphasised that the ultimate responsibility for reducing tensions lies with Ukrainians rather than outsiders.

President Vladimir Putin meanwhile has reportedly announced he will be awarding medals to Russians who took part in the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last month.