The pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian army have reached a full truce. This truce came into effect on Monday at midnight and should serve as a new step towards peace.
For years there has been a war in eastern Ukraine that has divided the country. Donetsk and Luhansk provinces had seceded from Ukraine with Russian support. With this she started a long battle that has raged since 2014 and has already cost 13.000 lives. Now the pro-Russian rebels, together with the Ukrainian army, are trying a new ceasefire to try to resolve this conflict peacefully.
This full truce, which went into effect at midnight Monday, was agreed a week earlier by negotiators from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The Ukrainian military has issued an order requiring it to cooperate in this "full and comprehensive ceasefire". Hours later, the Ukrainian army accused the separatists of already breaking the truce (1).
"Unfortunately shots were fired from the enemy side at 0:20." - Ukrainian General Volodymyr Kravchenko at a press conference.
According to a statement by the Ukrainian army, this took place south of Donetsk's rebel stronghold. General Kravchenko has said that the Ukrainian army will continue the ceasefire.
Kravchenko has also said shots were recorded at around 9 a.m. southwest of Donetsk. These shots would not have endangered Ukrainian soldiers.
According to a statement by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, no shots were fired and "they are strictly following obligations."
The use of any weapon, including handguns, is prohibited under this agreement.
The way to peace
Attempts have been made to stop fighting in eastern Ukraine before. But since this conflict started in 2014, no ceasefire has lasted long enough to enable the path to peace talks.
Last Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the ceasefire and steps to end the war (2).
It emphasized the importance of it Minsk II agreement which was signed in 2015 in Minks, Belarus (Belarus). This is evident from an official statement from the Kremlin.
Ukraine has been fighting separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk since the Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula in March 2014. The West accuses Russia of supporting the separatists with military personnel and weapons, the Kremlin has always denied this.
A number of things have happened since the December peace talks. Prisoners have been exchanged, a temporary ceasefire has been established and now both sides are working towards a more definitive form of peace.
During those talks between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, the aim was to bring about the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Just like restoring Kyiv's control over its borders and more autonomy for the regions. Another important goal was to hold regional elections.
Ukraine would prefer not to give extra autonomy to the two regions. But is willing to give up that for Ukraine's territorial integrity.