In Ukraine

Powers push for ceasefire, weapons withdrawal in eastern Ukraine

Reuters, Saturday Feb 18, 2017

Ukrainian military near two of Avdiivka in Donetsk region on Feb 10, 2017 (Oleksandr Klymenko, Reuters)

Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on Saturday to use their influence to implement a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Monday in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting has recently escalated between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the region, refocusing global attention on a simmering conflict that has strained relations between Russia and the West.

“On Feb. 20 the ceasefire regime will start and withdrawal of heavy military hardware will also start … We have actively supported this decision and obviously expressed a conviction that this time, failure should not be allowed to take place,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Ukrainian, German and French counterparts in Munich.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, France, Russia and Germany meet in Munich on Feb 18, 2017 (Sven Hopp, Reuters)

The Minsk peace agreement, brokered by France and Germany and signed by Russia and Ukraine in February 2015, calls for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line and constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy. But since the deal, the sides appear stuck in a stalemate broken periodically by sharp resurgences of fighting that Kiev and the Kremlin accuse each other of instigating.

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