KIEV — President Petro Poroshenko said on Sunday that Ukraine must be ready to defend itself should a peace deal with pro-Russian insurgents fail.
"We must be ready to protect our country if the peace plan does not work," Poroshenko said in a nationally televised interview.
"We must strengthen our defensive frontiers, strengthen our army," he said, adding that he had acquired new military equipment from the West during his trip to the United States and Canada last week.
But he reiterated that the five-month conflict could not be resolved by military means, saying the more Ukrainian troops were deployed "the more Russian troops will be there". And he acknowledged that 65 per cent of Ukraine's military hardware had been destroyed during the five-month conflict.
Kiev signed a deal with the separatists and Moscow on Saturday to strengthen a fragile ceasefire deal agreed two weeks earlier.
Poroshenko said it was only through his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the warring sides had been able to reach an accord.
"Without these discussions there would be no (peace) process now," he said, adding that there has been a "de-escalation" of the crisis.
Although both sides have traded accusations of violations with several dozen people reported killed since the first truce on September 5, the situation appeared to be calm on Sunday.
However, a Ukrainian security spokesman said that Kiev would not pull its forces back from the frontline until all sides cease fire under the terms of the so-called Minsk Memorandum agreed on Saturday. — AFP