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Ukraine Ceasefire Offers 'Glimmer of Hope,' Though Many Issues Remain Unresolved

The agreement was announced after 17 hours of talks between the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. It will now be put to EU leaders at a summit later today.
Image via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a ceasefire in Ukraine, after 17 hours of talks with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The ceasefire is scheduled to begin at midnight on Sunday February 15, and the leaders have claimed that pro-Russian rebels have also agreed to abide by it. Consensus is also believed to have been reached on the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the release of prisoners. Poroshenko also said that Ukraine would establish control of the international border by the end of 2015.


"We have managed to agree on the main issues," Putin said at a press conference in Minsk.

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The meeting between the "Normandy Four" began on Wednesday in Belarus, and marked the first time since October that Putin and Poroshenko were meeting.

Putin said the withdrawal of heavy weapons by Ukrainian troops was an imporant point of the agreement.

He also outlined a plan for a political settlement, but did not clarify to what extent progress had been made on some of its key questions. "The first thing is constitutional reform that should take into consideration the legitimate rights of people who live in Donbass," he said. "There are also border issues. Finally there are a whole range of economic and humanitarian issues."

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"We hope that all parties will exercise restraint before there is an entire total ceasefire," Putin said.

Hollande echoed Putin's message that there were some outstanding questions, though said that after a "long night" and "long morning" they had managed to reach a deal. In a statement, he said: "The comprehensive political settlement covers all contentious issues, ranging from the ceasefire through to border control, on issues of decentralization, of course, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the resumption of economic relations."


Merkel, meanwhile, called this a "glimmer of hope," while noting that "major hurdles still lie ahead." She added that "even President Putin has exerted pressure on the separatists."

Pressestatement von Kanzlerin — Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher)February 12, 2015

Hollande and Merkel are scheduled to attend a European Union summit later on Thursday, where the crisis in Ukraine will be discussed. They are expected to ask the assembled leaders to support the agreement.

According to United Nations figures, 263 civilians were killed in the Ukraine conflict between January 31 and February 5 in the conflict. At least 5,400 have died over the past 10 months.

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Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd