Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels agree to end fighting in eastern Ukraine


Pro-Russia rebels

The Ukrainian Government and pro-Russia rebels have signed a nine-point memorandum to peacefully settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The accord was signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to add substance to a ceasefire agreement that was signed in Minsk, Belarus, on 5 September.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two sides will establish a 30km buffer zone by moving weapons with a calibre of more than 100mm at least 15km away from the contact line on both sides, including from residential areas, as reported by RIA Novosti.

The accord prohibits the use of all kinds of weapons and offensive action, deployment of heavy weapons and heavy equipment in the region and the placing of mine barriers at the border of the buffer zone, while urging military elements and military to withdraw to their contact line.

The agreement calls for the deployment of OSCE observers to monitor the ceasefire zone and the withdrawal of all foreign armed groups and military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries, from the Ukrainian territory.

In addition, flights of operational aircraft and foreign aerial vehicles, except OSCE vehicles over the buffer zone, are banned.

"All elements of the Minsk Protocol and of this agreement must now be fully implemented by all sides."

Both Ukraine and the international community have accused Russia of actively deploying soldiers and heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) said: "All elements of the Minsk Protocol and of this agreement must now be fully implemented by all sides.

"A lasting ceasefire remains key to the success of the current efforts to reach a sustainable political solution, based on respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the crisis in eastern parts of the country is easing since the signing of the Minsk Protocol earlier this month, even though the agreement was being violated.

Poroshenko was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "Ukraine was doing and is doing everything possible to stick to the peace plan and to fulfil all obligations.

"The ceasefire is being violated, but the number of casualties is tens of times less than what we had before."

More than 3,000 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since April, BBC News reported.


Image: Pro-Russia rebels have captured many cities in eastern Ukraine since April. Photo: courtesy of Yevgen Nasadyuk (????? ???????).

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