Ukraine's Joint Forces will retaliate only in case of offensive actions on the part of the invaders or threats to the life of military personnel, says JFO Commander General Volodymyr Kravchenko.
"Anticipating the question of the possibility of returning fire, I emphasize: no one can forbid our military from defending themselves and their brothers-in-arms in the event of open, armed aggression," he told reporters at a briefing in Donetsk region on Monday, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
"This is guaranteed by international humanitarian law," the military chief said. "As Commander of the Joint Forces, whose main task is to preserve the lives of troops and civilians in the JFO zone, I assure you that if the adversary violates the truce and poses a threat to their lives, the response on the part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be instant and resolute," he said.
Kravchenko has stressed there is no ban on returning fire to enemy shelling, so the Ukrainian military will respond if a threat arises to their lives.
The decision to open fire in such cases, Kravchenko says, will be made by unit commanders on the ground. According to the agreements reached by the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas settlement, parties are allowed to open fire in case of an enemy offensive.
Kravchenko also reported a "healthy atmosphere" in JFO units. "Without exception, all servicemen are ready to carry out orders, realizing the importance of political agreements reached, because now we are talking about a real possibility to cease the fire on both sides," he said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, participants in the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia, OSCE) on the peace settlement in Donbas on July 22 agreed on a complete and comprehensive ceasefire on the contact line from 00:01 on Monday, July 27.
The parties also agreed to apply measures to strengthen the ceasefire until a full settlement of the international armed conflict in the territory of the Ukrainian Donbas. These measures were agreed at the TCG by Ukraine and Russia, and supported by the OSCE.
On July 25, Joint Forces began preparations for a ceasefire. The Headquarters said that additional control over the ceasefire will be carried out by seconded Ukrainian servicemen with combat experience who had been directly engaged in the relevant efforts while participating in UN peacekeeping missions. The Headquarters explained that this would allow not to distract JF personnel from performing combat missions, and to prevent possible provocations, while not depriving Ukrainian soldiers of the opportunity for self-defense.
According to the Joint Forces headquarters, since midnight on July 27, a complete and comprehensive ceasefire has been in place along the contact line in the zone of the Joint Forces operation. However, two attacks on the part of Russia-led forces have already been recorded. Ukrainian military did not return fire.