A ceasefire agreed between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels has come into force

February 15, 2015 9:24 pm

A ceasefire agreed between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels
has come into force, the first step in a fragile peace plan aimed at
ending 10 months of conflict in east Ukraine.
The truce
officially started at midnight Ukraine time (11am NZT), but surging
fighting in the run-up to the ceasefire has already cast doubt on
whether it will be respected.

An elderly woman cries inside her burned apartment after artillery shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Monday. Photo / Getty
Under the terms of the deal, inked
on Thursday after marathon talks in Minsk between the leaders of
Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, the two warring sides have two days
from the start of the truce to start pulling back heavy weapons from
the frontline.
The last-ditch peace plan is seen as the best hope
of ending the violence that has claimed at least 5480 lives since April
but scepticism remains high after the collapse of a similar previous
deal.
Ferocious fighting raged in the hours before the ceasefire
was set to come into effect, with Ukraine and the United States accusing
Russia of piling in weapons to fuel a rebel onslaught to grab
territory.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned
on Saturday of dire consequences for Europe if the Ukraine ceasefire
fails.

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