KIEV - A Ukrainian military spokesman on Sunday dismissed a call for a cease-fire by a separatist leader, saying this could only take place once rebels had shown "white flags" and surrendered. Meanwhile the separatists stepped back from their earlier talk of a possible ceasefire and said the Ukrainian army had first to end military action. A senior leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic had said on Saturday that the rebels were ready for a truce with government forces to allow humanitarian aid to be brought in.
Replying to a journalist's question on Sunday, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said: "If there is this initiative, it should be carried out by practical means and not by words - by raising white flags and by putting down guns." He added: "We have not seen these practical steps yet." In a statement released later the rebels said they remained ready for a temporary truce to head off "a humanitarian catastrophe," but added defiantly that "as long as the Ukrainian army is continuing military action there can be no cease-fire."