DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - A top rebel leader says the eastern city of Donetsk is surrounded by Ukrainian troops and his forces are willing to accept a cease-fire in order to stave off a humanitarian catastrophe.
There was no immediate government response to the statement Saturday from Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the so-called prime minister of the Donetsk separatists.
The thunder of artillery reverberated through the nearly deserted streets of Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city.
Russia, which the Ukrainian government and Western countries allege is supporting the rebels, has called repeatedly for a humanitarian mission into eastern Ukraine. But Kiev and the West suggest that could be just a pretext to send in Russian forces.
Zakharchenko's statement could be aimed at increasing the international pressure to allow in a Russian mission.