Poroshenko states completion of ATO, launch of joint forces operation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions
President of Ukraine, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has announced the transition from the format of the anti-terrorist operation to the joint forces operation in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"Today, on April 30, 2018 the large-scale anti-terrorist operation in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions comes to an end. We are now starting a military operation under the leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to ensure the protection of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of our state ... The ATO is over, while the rebuff to the Russian aggressor will be completed when the last scrap of the Ukrainian land is liberated both in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and in the territory of occupied Crimea," Poroshenko said at a meeting of the military leadership of the country, broadcasted by Ukrainian TV channels.
He stressed that the ATO over the four years had fulfilled its tasks in the context of actions of the terrorists trained and supported by Russia in Donbas and when the previous Ukrainian authorities actually disbanded its armed forces.
According to Poroshenko, in 2014 the ATO actually turned into confrontation with aggression on the part of Russia.
In 2017 the world recognized the fact of Russian aggression, which enabled Ukraine to legislatively clarify the strategic tasks and legal bases for the fight against aggression and adopt the law on the peculiarities of state policy for ensuring Ukraine's sovereignty in the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions."
The president signed the relevant decree directly during the meeting.
"This decree enacts the decision of the National Security and Defense Council to abolish the format of a large-scale anti-terrorist operation, which was introduced in 2014. The ATO is over," the head of state said.
"I want to emphasize that the completion of the regime of a large-scale ATO does not deprive us of the opportunity to declare ATO at any time when there arises a terrorist threat in the liberated territories," Poroshenko added.
The president stressed that the liberation of Donbas will be carried out politically and diplomatically, but if necessary fire will be started.
"I stress once again that it is envisaged to liberate Donbas through political and diplomatic means, which include forcing Russia to abide by the Minsk Agreements, ensuring the implementation of the security package of the Minsk Agreements in the first place, including a guaranteed ceasefire, and withdrawing artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, and mortars banned by the Minsk Agreements preferably to the territory of the Russian Federation," Poroshenko said.
Poroshenko said that Ukrainian diplomats and he, as Ukraine's president, "will do everything possible to ensure the introduction of a peacekeeping format which will reinforce the [peacekeeping] contingent and create necessary conditions for restoring normal life."
"But if the enemy decides to mount a large-scale offensive, we will be responsible for repelling the Russian Federation's large-scale armed aggression and will stand ready to take part in a strategic defensive operation, whose plan has already been approved," he said.
Poroshenko appointed Lt. Gen. Serhiy Nayev, who became Ukraine's Joint Forces commander on March 16, 2018, to supervise the combined forces operation in Donbas.
The president signed a decree ordering the joint forces operation to begin at 14:00 p.m. on Monday, April 30.
The president also instructed Ukrainian General Staff Chief Viktor Muzhenko to "ensure strategic command over the forces and hardware of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other defense forces involved in the joint forces operation in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and ensure their absolutely effective and strict coordination."
Should the situation worsen, additional personnel and hardware of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, absolutely all other security agencies and also other defense and security personnel should be ordered to join the operation, Poroshenko said.