Ukraine and Russia agree to implement ceasefire.
Ukraine and Russia have agreed to implement a “full and comprehensive” ceasefire in eastern Ukraine by the end of 2019, after top-level talks. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky met face to face at a Paris summit on Monday.
Mr Zelensky was downbeat, saying little had been achieved at the meeting and he had wanted to see more resolved. Five-and-a-half years of fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels have cost 13,000 lives. The negotiations were brokered by the leaders of France and Germany. They follow a big prisoner swap and the withdrawal of Ukraine’s military from three key areas on the front line.
What was agreed?
In a written statement, the countries agreed to the release and exchange of all “conflict-related detainees” by the end of the year. The two sides also pledged to disengage military forces in three additional regions of Ukraine by the end of March 2020, without specifying which regions would be affected. Additional talks will be held in four months to take stock of the ceasefire’s progress.
At a press conference after the talks in France’s Elysée Palace, President Putin hailed them as an “important step” towards a de-escalation of the conflict.
President Zelensky said the issue of Russian gas exports via pipelines through Ukraine had been “unblocked” after a dispute about transit tariffs, and an agreement would now be worked out. But Russia and Ukraine continue to disagree on issues such as the withdrawal of Russian-backed troops, and elections in areas of Ukraine held by the separatist rebels.
Mr Putin also called for a change in Ukraine’s constitution to give special status to the Donbas region, which is held by the rebels. He also pushed for an amnesty for people who had taken part in the seizure of Ukrainian territory.
Mr Zelensky told reporters that Ukraine would not make any territorial concessions in exchange for peace. “We saw differences today,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who hosted the talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Information and Image have been shared from an Article by Johna Fisher, published at the BBC World News, on December 10th, 2019. Image Credit: Getty Images, 2019.