October 11, 2020 | News | No Comments
Following marathon overnight talks in Minsk, Belarus that began Wednesday, world leaders emerged near dawn to announce that a cease-fire agreement has been reached to at least temporarily stop the fighting in eastern Ukraine with stated hopes that a long-term political solution will follow.
Spurred by a renewed effort by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, the talks brought Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to the table with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate on behalf of rebel forces in the east who have refused to submit to the authority of the Kiev government following a coup last year.
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It was Putin who first declared that more than 16 hours of negotiations had yielded substantial progressive and the agreement of a cease-fire that would begin on Saturday. “We have agreed on a ceasefire from midnight 15 February,” Putin told reporters early Thursday.
For his part, Poroshenko said, “The main thing which has been achieved is that from Saturday into Sunday there should be declared without any conditions at all, a general ceasefire.”
That news will come as welcome relief to those in the eastern region of the country, where ongoing fight over the last year has claimed more than 5,000 lives, forced people from their homes, and resulted in a widespread humanitarian crisis.
Alexander Zakharchenko, a rebel leader from the Donetsk region, according to Reuters, called the treaty a “major victory for the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics.” And Igor Plotnitsky, part of the delegation from Luhansk, said the deal would “give Ukraine a chance, so that the country changes its constitution and its attitude.”
Merkel said the agreement should be seen as a “glimmer of hope,” but said it should be clear to all that there remains much work and reconciliation before real and lasting peace is achieved. “On balance,” Merkel said, “I can say what we have achieved gives significantly more hope than if we had achieved nothing. So one can say that this initiative was worth it.”
In her statements, Merkel made it clear Putin had been instrumental in pressuring the factions in the east to accept the terms of the truce.
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