The last ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and rebel forces in eastern Ukraine came into effect at midnight local time.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian army said its troops “began preparations” for the ceasefire in the war-torn region while rebel officials said they had instructed their forces and issued a decree prohibiting the use of weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine and both have expressed support for a ceasefire, their offices said.
“Leaders agreed on the need for urgent implementation additional measures to support the ceasefire regime in Donbass ”, Zelenskiy Office announcement, referring to eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky too call for stronger efforts to secure the release of Ukrainian citizens in Donbass, Crimea and Russia, according to the Ukrainian press release.
Putin Express concerns over recent Ukrainian parliament bill paving the way for regional elections in 20220, claiming it goes “against the Minsk accords” and puts “settlement prospects in jeopardy,” Kremlin said .
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists reached an agreement for a “comprehensive and comprehensive ceasefire” – the latest of about 20 unsuccessful attempts at a full ceasefire in the troubled east from Ukraine.
Germany and France welcome the ceasefire
The ceasefire agreement has been welcomed by European Union officials.
“The breakthrough (…) is the result of the effective work of the Ukrainian delegation with the support of our international partners in Berlin and Paris,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement earlier this week.
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The conclusion of a ceasefire agreement was also a prerequisite for a new Ukrainian summit on the crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of bringing Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin together.
If maintained, the ceasefire “will pave the way for the implementation of other clauses” of the Minsk peace accord, Zelenskiy’s office said.
Negotiated in 2015 by Merkel then by French President François Hollande, the Minsk agreements aimed to resolve the conflict in the east after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Six years of conflict
The conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed rebels in Donetsk and Lugansk, near the Russian border, has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014, when Moscow took control of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula and supported the rebellion in the east.
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Major fighting ended after a ceasefire in 2015, but periodic clashes continue to kill Ukrainian soldiers, separatists and civilians.
The Minsk Accord helped reduce hostilities in the region, but Ukrainian and rebel forces continued to exchange artillery rounds and gunfire.
Zelenskiy partly won the 2018 elections by promising to end the conflict. He insisted on changing the timeline in the deal so that Ukraine takes control of its border before local elections are held, but the Russian government insists the deal must be implemented. work without any revision.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis announced during his traditional Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square that he prayed that the new ceasefire would finally be maintained and pave the way for a “much needed and long awaited reconciliation. long time”.
mvb / rc (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)