The new cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk between Ukraine, Russia and the militants Russia is backing in east Ukraine builds on two earlier deals that failed to stop the fighting. The agreement was signed Thursday by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe after all-night talks. The representatives met separately from the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, who released a separate statement supporting the deal.
Here is a summary of the 13 main points of the new agreement (available in Russian on the Kremlin website):
- Impose a cease-fire from midnight on Saturday, Feb 14, 2015.
- Withdraw heavy weapons to create a 50-kilometer “safe zone.” Ukraine will pull its weapons back in relation to the current front line, while separatists will move theirs back from the “contact line” agreed in September talks. The withdrawal should start no later than the second day after the cease-fire and be completed in two weeks.
- The OSCE will monitor and verify the cease-fire and withdrawal of heavy weapons.
- On the day after the withdrawal, start a dialogue on carrying out local elections according to a Ukrainian law that establishes “temporary self-governance” for rebel-held areas. Within 30 days of the deal’s signing, pass a parliament resolution on territories covered by the law.
- Pass an amnesty law for all those involved in fighting.
- Release and exchange all prisoners on both sides by the fifth day after heavy weapons are withdrawn.
- Provide for the safe access of humanitarian aid according to international mechanisms.
- Find a way to restore social and economic ties between Ukraine and rebel-held areas, including pensions and other payments.
- Restore Ukrainian control of the state border beginning the day after local elections and finishing by the end of 2015 if point 11 is implemented.
- Withdraw all foreign fighters and disarm illegal groups.
- Carry out constitutional reform in Ukraine by the end of 2015 with elements of decentralization, including for rebel-held areas choice of language, local selection of judges and prosecutors, and socio-economic support from Kiev.
- Questions relating to local elections will be discussed by the “contact group” of Russia, Ukraine, the militants and the OSCE. The OSCE will monitor local elections.
- The contact group will create a working group on implementing the deal.
The last cease-fire agreement that was reached in Minsk between Ukraine, Russia and the pro-Russian separatists from east Ukraine never really took hold. But all sides in the talks Wednesday say that deal, which was set down in two separate documents signed Sep. 5, 2014, and Sept. 19, 2014, must form the basis of any new agreement.
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