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Tentative ceasefire agreed for eastern Ukraine

February 18, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said a truce between pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine's army will start on Monday. But Kyiv has said it is "not at all" happy with the deal made at the Munich Security Conference.

Ukraine Donetsk Zerstörung nach Granaten-Beschuss
Image: picture alliance/dpa/Sputnik/I. Maslov

Lavrov told reporters in Germany on Saturday that the recent uptick in violence in eastern Ukraine would come to a halt within two days.

"On February 20 the ceasefire regime will start and withdrawal of heavy military hardware will also start ... We have actively supported this decision and obviously expressed a conviction that this time, failure should not be allowed to take place," he said.

Lavrov spoke on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, where a new deal was reached by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France. Earlier this month, eastern Ukraine experienced the worst violence since a 2015 peace deal brought relative calm to the region.

Kyiv downbeat

But despite Lavrov describing the talks as "positive," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told reporters he was "not at all" happy with the results of Saturday's talks.

"We need a kind of powerful result, not just a couple of statements," he told Reuters news agency.

Deutschland | Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz | Außenminister aus der Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, Frankreich  Jean-Marc Ayrault, Russland Sergey Lavrov und Deutschland Sigmar Gabriel
Representatives from Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia helped broker the new truce, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said would begin on MondayImage: REUTERS/S. Hopp

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said further meetings were planned in the coming weeks to ensure the ceasefire holds. Several Western politicians have called on Moscow to use its influence with pro-Russian separatists to quell the fighting.

Merkel pressures Moscow

Earlier on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Moscow to stick to the previous ceasefire agreement she helped broker in Minsk, Belarus, to bring an end to the three-year conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.

"The Minsk agreement is the only thing we have at the moment to move forward talks and the possibility of solving the problems," she said. "When we don't have anything else, I am against throwing something away that may still carry hope."

Close to 10,000 people have been killed in Ukraine's mostly Russian-speaking eastern industrial regions since the conflict began against Kyiv's pro-Western government, after the ouster of the former Soviet Republic's Kremlin-backed president in 2014.

mm/sms (AFP, AP)