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Poroshenko says new military operation in Donbass begins in May

President of Ukraine Pyotr Poroshenko promised to sign a decree on ending the so-called antiterrorist operation (ATO) in Donbass and instead begin the Joint Forces Operation (JOF) in the territories beyond Kiev's control in May.

"The date will be in May, as we move on to a new format for protecting the country, we are introducing new measures. We are doing this because we see a sharp increase in the threat in the east and the powder must be kept dry," he said at a meeting with representatives of regional media, answering the question about the exact date of termination of the ATO.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defense of the country reported that the recently announced by the President Joint Forces Operation (JOF) will be held in the region in parallel with the existing ATO until the decree of the Head of State on the abolition of the latter.

On March 6, Poroshenko announced the replacement of the ATO format in Donbass with the operation of the joint forces and appointed Sergey Nayev as commander. According to the president, he set before Nayev "the task of strengthening the armed forces so that they were able to liberate the occupied territories." At the same time, as Viktor Kononenko, deputy head of the Security Service (SBU), noted, "nothing has changed in fact," only the Security Service transferred control of the operation to the military.

At that, the representative of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yury Bobrov said earlier that the ATO and the Operation of the Joint Forces are "quite different things, and one does not exclude the other."

"Moreover, I am sure that the ATO will continue regardless of when the operation of the joint forces begins or ends," he said. "The ATO will end when the last member of the illegal formations, the last terrorist, will be detained and taken to law enforcement agencies."

The replacement of the ATO with the Joint Forces Operation is envisaged by the law on the reintegration of Donbass ("On the peculiarities of the state policy on ensuring Ukraine's state sovereignty over the temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions") signed by President Poroshenko in February.

In this document, areas beyond Kiev's control are called "temporarily occupied territories," Russia acts as "aggression against Ukraine," and the president is given the right to use armed forces within the country without the consent of the parliament, including for the liberation of territories in the east. A joint operational headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is being created to control all siloviki and military-civilian administrations in the conflict zone.

DONi News Agency

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