It took all of "several seconds", in the NYT's own words, for the latest proposal for a ceasefire, issued by Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko, to be "rejected."
Here is how the NYT framed it, and why the truce proposal is seen as a "lose-lose" idea from the perspective of the rebels: "After Ukraine’s new president, Petro O. Poroshenko, told reporters in Kiev on Wednesday that he might soon order a temporary, unilateral cease-fire as part of a broader 14-point peace plan, it took all of several seconds for pro-Russian militants to rule it out."
“I am a condemned man,” said a stick-thin fighter who, like many others here, identified himself only by an alias, Tarik, for security reasons. Sipping tea in the gloom of the lobby of Donetsk’s rebel-occupied administration building on Wednesday afternoon, he patted the magazine of the automatic rifle slung across his chest.
Any cease-fire would certainly be violated by the Ukrainian Army, he said, adding that he and other pro-Russian separatists would be arrested the minute the government had the opportunity.
“What peace can they possibly offer me?” he asked. “If they want peace, then they can leave.”
That's the big picture.
The details of the latest fighting, which broke out earlier this morning, come from Reuters :
Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists were locked in fierce fighting in the east of Ukraine on Thursday after rebels rejected a call to lay down their arms in line with a peace plan proposed by President Petro Poroshenko, government forces said. Heavy fighting broke out at around 4 a.m. near the town of Krasny Liman, which itself has been under government control since early this month.
"We issued an ultimatum to the terrorists overnight to surrender their weapons. We guarantee their safety and investigation in line with Ukrainian law ... They refused," said government forces spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov.
"Now we are trying to narrow the encirclement. They are trying to break out," Seleznyov said.
Ironically, the more a truce is trumpeted up, the worse the fighting gets: "Up to 4,000 separatist fighters could be involved in Thursday's fighting near Krasny Liman, and armored vehicles and possibly tanks were being used by both sides, the military source said. "There's a major battle going on which exceeds in terms of force and scale anything there has been up to now," a military source said."
Olesya, a woman in the village of Yampil near Krasny Liman, said Ukrainian forces had entered the village in armored vehicles bearing the Ukrainian flag.
"There's been no shooting. We residents went out into the street to watch the column - and then went back to hide in our houses again," she said by telephone from her house where she was with her husband and five-year-old daughter.
"But there was fighting all night. Mines were flying over our heads. Planes flew over and we could hear heavy weapons. It's awful what is going on here," she said.
Finally, the separatists fighters, realizing they only have to lose should they put down their arms, have no choice but to continue fighting, have "demanded that the Ukrainian military leave the region, called Donbass, while others wanted a war tribunal for Ukraine’s newly elected leaders. Most said they wanted the restoration of “stability,” the precise definition of which remained elusive."
“Maybe there was a way back when this all just started, when the people were out here with the flags to make their point, and before the killing,” said Denis, a separatist fighter from Makeyevka, a depressed industrial town outside of Donetsk, when asked how and when the conflict might be resolved.
Another fighter jumped in helpfully. “The Third World War,” he said to nods of assent.
So much for a detente which as we explained yesterday, even Putin is now working to promote. Sadly, as Denis summarized, any chance of a real truce is long gone as the time for diplomacy has passed. What remains will be a drawn out, mini civil war which will mark the lives of the citizens in the Donbas for a long time. The only winners now are those who seek continued instability in the region.
As for the general public, their focus on Ukraine has long since passed. Now, it is the turn of Iraq's 15 minutes of infamy to distract from whatever key events are quietly taking place behind the scenes.