Kiev officials backed by NATO and the US, and representatives of the two self-proclaimed republics in southeastern Ukraine have agreed to a ceasefire, as the contact group met behind closed doors in Belarus.
The meeting was attended by former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, representative of the “People Republic of Donetsk”, Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko, OSCE envoy Heidi Tagliavini, Russian Ambassador to the Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, rebel leader of “People Republic of Lugansk” Igor Plotnitsky make an official statement on the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Minsk, on September 5, 2014.
The two sides accompanied by representatives of Russia and the OSCE were meeting in the Belorussian capital, Minsk, in an attempt to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who is now in Wales for the NATO summit, has confirmed the ceasefire agreement on his Twitter account.
He has ordered the pro-government forces to stop military actions starting 6 pm local time (15:00 GMT), as stated in the protocol.
“I give the order to the chief of the General staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to cease fire, starting from 18.00 [local time] on September 5,” Poroshenko’s statement says.
He has called on both the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the OSCE to provide international monitoring of compliance with the bilateral ceasefire.
“We must do everything possible and impossible to stop bloodshed and put an end to people’s suffering,” the president said in a statement posted on his official website.
He also expressed hope that both sides would follow the protocol.
Russia has welcomed the ceasefire agreement, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
“Moscow hopes that all provisions of the document and agreements reached will be carefully executed by the parties, as well as the continuation of the negotiation process for full settlement of the crisis in Ukraine,” Peskov said in a statement.
The participants in the talks will prepare another document – a memorandum on settling the situation in Ukraine, a Donetsk representative said.
In their recent phone call on September 3, the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, showed a willingness to find an agreement to resolve the months-long conflict in the southeastern Ukraine.
Following the conversation with his counterpart, President Putin laid out a seven-point plan that could help find a solution.