Ukraine and pro-Russia separatist rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement. However, the pro-Russia separatists stressed that this did not mean they were giving up their quest for independence from Kyiv.
The ceaefire deal, reached after two hours of negotiations in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, is to come into force at 6 p.m. local time (1500 GMT).
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed that a truce had been signed, in a statement published on his official website.
"I am ordering the head of general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine to halt fire starting at 6 p.m," the statement said.
Poroshenko said via his Twitter account that his envoy had signed a "preliminary" protocol.
"A preliminary protocol to the ceasefire agreement has been signed in Minsk. This protocol should enter into force on Friday," the statement said.
OSCE observers to monitor ceasefire
Heidi Tagliavini, representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told the Associated Press that the deal reached in Minsk consisted of 12 points, including a ceasefire monitoring regime and prisoner exchange.
Rebel leaders Alexander Zacharchenko and Igor Plonitsky agreed to allow OSCE observes to monitor the ceasefire, but Plonitsky insisted that the separatists would go on fighting for independence from Ukraine.
"We believe that an immediate ceasefire presents the basis to develop dialogue by political and economic means," Russian news agency Interfax quoted him as saying.
Fighting ongoing ahead of truce
The deal comes amid heavy fighting in Ukraine's southeastern city, Mariupol. Ukrainian forces said that they had fended off attacks from separatists. According to the German news agency, DPA, seven civilians died and 23 others were injured in the clashes.
Nearly 2,600 people have died in the fighting that erupted between the rebels in eastern Ukraine and government troops earlier this year. Ukraine and Western governments have accused Russia of sending troops into eastern Ukraine to support the separatist rebels. Moscow has denied this.
hc,mg/pfd (Reuters, dpa)