New ceasefire agreed in Ukraine? | News | DW | 04.12.2014
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New ceasefire agreed in Ukraine?

Reports out of Ukraine suggest that the central government and the separatists in the east have agreed to a complete ceasefire, to start on December 9. An earlier accord, still in effect, has not stopped the conflict.

President Petro Poroshenko issued a statement on his website on Thursday saying that Ukraine's military would halt fire on December 9 in eastern Ukraine, on a "Day of Silence."

Should the new truce deal hold, Poroshenko said, Ukraine would begin to withdraw heavy weapons from the eastern frontline on the following day, but only if the separatists also observed the truce. Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted leaders from the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as saying that they had agreed to cease hostilities next Tuesday.

Ukraine Staatspräsident Petro Poroschenko

Poroshenko's statement coincided with a major OSCE conference

In talks brokered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Minsk this September, the governments in Kyiv and Moscow agreed to a ceasefire in the country, a ceasefire that only marginally reduced the level of fighting.

Poroshenko said that Kyiv had prepared "measures that should ensure the implementation of the Minsk Agreement concerning a Day of Silence that is due to begin on December 9."

The parliamentary speaker within Donetsk's contentious state government elected last month, Andrei Purgin, told RIA Novosti that Tuesday's planned truce was part of the Minsk accord.

"The [Minsk] group, which included our and Ukrainian military officials, as well as OSCE and Russian mediators, agreed to halt fire on December 9," he said.

More than 4,300 people have died in the past eight months in Ukraine, and several minor truce deals have been reached - and breached - in that time.

Thursday's announcements out of Ukraine coincided with an annual conference in Basel, attended by foreign ministers from some 50 OSCE member countries and focused on defusing the conflict in Ukraine. The news also comparatively swiftly followed Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual state of the nation address.

msh/jr (AFP, dpa)

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