Ukraine Ceasefire Agreement Reached at Belarus
The Guardian and other news sources are reporting that the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany have reached a ceasefire deal on the Ukrainian conflict.
The ceasefire agreement came after 17 hours of talks in Minsk, Belarus, and is to take effect “from midnight 15 February,” according to Russian president Vladimir Putin himself.
The ceasefire agreement includes the withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine and the implementation of the September Minsk agreements, according to the State Department.
Naturally, after so many dashed hopes, broken promises and false starts, there are many skeptics and plenty of words of caution going around.
German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who along with French president Hollande made the agreement possible, said, “we now have a glimmer of hope”, and added that the leaders were under no illusions and that “there is very, very much work still to do,” according to a translation by the Guardian.
Also, according to the Guardian:
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini sounded a note of caution, saying the Minsk agreement was important but not definitive. She added that she did not expect EU leaders to discuss sanctions against Russia at their summit on Thursday after the deal.
The following is a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry on the agreement.
The United States welcomes the news that the OSCE-led Trilateral Contact Group, supported by Chancellor Merkel and Presidents Hollande, Poroshenko, and Putin, reached agreement on a ceasefire and heavy weapons withdrawal in eastern Ukraine, and on the implementation of the September Minsk agreements. We particularly commend the diplomatic efforts of our European Allies, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, and their teams in making this agreement possible. Actions will be what matter now. The first test of this agreement and the prospects for a comprehensive settlement will be the full implementation of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by all parties – by Ukraine, the separatists, and Russia. All the parties must show complete restraint in the run-up to the Sunday ceasefire, including an immediate halt to the Russian and separatist assault on Debaltseve and other Ukrainian towns.
The parties have a long road ahead before achieving peace and the full restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty. The United States stands ready to assist in coordination with our European Allies and partners. We will judge the commitment of Russia and the separatists by their actions, not their words. As we have long said, the United States is prepared to consider rolling back sanctions on Russia when the Minsk agreements of September 2014, and now this agreement, are fully implemented. That includes a full ceasefire, the withdrawal of all foreign troops and equipment from Ukraine, the full restoration of Ukrainian control of the international border, and the release of all hostages.
We also welcome the news that the Government of Ukraine and the IMF have reached an agreement that will allow the IMF to provide Ukraine with $17.5 billion in financial assistance in support of economic reforms. This agreement will enable Ukraine to continue implementing the reforms it needs to build a stronger, more prosperous, democratic future for the people of Ukraine.
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