Date
24 October 2017
Ukrainian armed forces ride on an armored personnel carrier near Debaltseve earlier this week. A ceasefire brokered by Germany and France has sparked hopes that tensions could ease in the region. Photo: Reuters
Ukrainian armed forces ride on an armored personnel carrier near Debaltseve earlier this week. A ceasefire brokered by Germany and France has sparked hopes that tensions could ease in the region. Photo: Reuters

Ceasefire deal reached on Ukraine after marathon talks

The leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine announced Thursday a ceasefire deal for eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatist rebels have been battling Kiev government forces.

The agreement was announced after more than 16 hours of discussions through the night in the Belarussian capital Minsk, Reuters reported.

Under the deal, Ukrainian forces and separatist groups will halt their conflict from Sunday and withdraw heavy weapons from the front line. Kiev, meanwhile, has promised constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy.

Even as the agreement was unveiled, the US and NATO reported further intense fighting on Thursday.

Fighting has intensified in recent days as the rebels try to take control of Debaltseve, a strategic transport hub that would link the two separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, where elections are envisaged under the accord, the report noted.

The US said Thursday’s deal was “potentially significant” but urged Russia to withdraw soldiers and equipment and give Ukraine back control over its border.

“The United States is particularly concerned about the escalation of fighting today, which is inconsistent with the spirit of the accord,” the White House was quoted as saying in a statement.

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