Ukraine Ceasefire Deal Enters into Force

World » UKRAINE | February 15, 2015, Sunday // 11:04
Bulgaria: Ukraine Ceasefire Deal Enters into Force Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (C) speaks to top military officials in Kiev, Ukraine, 14 February 2015. President Poroshenko gave the order to Ukrainian forces to cease fire beginning at midnight (Saturday, 2200 GMT) as a part of a peace agreement f

A ceasefire beginning on Sunday is mostly being observed, media outlets report.

Though several incidents have been reported, pro-Russia rebels acting in the regions around Donetsk and Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, say they do not constitute a severe violation to the agreement.

The truce is being upheld "to a great extent" as of Sunday morning, though there is still evidence of shelling in the regions of Debaltseve and Gorlovka, according to German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

Russian media reports suggest the Ukrainian military and representatives of self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk "People's Republics" are already trading accusations of not respecting the agreement.

The truce in Ukraine's Donbass region has been under way since 00:01 local time on Sunday (22:00 GMT, Saturday).

It follows a more intense Saturday when tense fighting was reported in the region around Debaltseve, a strategic city besieged by rebels, who claim it is not part of the agreement.

Ending hostilities has been described as the first stage of a peace plan aimed at putting an end to the conflict in Ukraine's east.

President Petro Poroshenko vowed on Saturday evening that Kiev forces would stick to the ceasefire. The head of state, who appeared to meet reporters in a military uniform, however said the country would have to introduce martial law if rebels fail to lay down arms.

In his words, this is the "last chance" for peace.

An agreement on what many call a last-ditch effort to end the conflict in Ukraine was secured earlier this week after marathon talks between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

The deal they struck in the Belarusian capital Minsk includes a withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line starting Monday. This should go hand in hand with the establishment of a buffer zone from 50 to 140 km.

A new constitution providing for the decentralization of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as the return of border control in these regions to Ukraine in end-2015 or 2016 (if the former requirement is upheld) is also on the timetable.

The four statesmen are due to hold a phone conversation later on Sunday to discuss the first results of the ceasefire.

More than 5400 people have lost their lives since fighting in the Donbass began last spring.

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Tags: Ukraine, truce, ceasefire, Petro Poroshenko, Donetsk, Luhansk, Debaltseve, Gorlovka, rebels, pro-Russian
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