Ukraine And Russia Agree To Implement Ceasefire

  • Pledge To Disengage Military Forces in Three Regions of Ukraine
  • No Alternative to Peaceful Settlement – Germany, France Insist

BBC Reports with Pauline Abutu

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky met face to face, recently, at a Paris summit.

Mr Zelensky was downbeat, saying little had been achieved at the meeting and he had wanted to see more resolved.

Five-and-a-half years of fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels have cost 13,000 lives.

The negotiations were brokered by the leaders of France and Germany.

They follow a big prisoner swap and the withdrawal of Ukraine’s military from three key areas on the front line.

In a written statement, the countries agreed to the release and exchange of all “conflict-related detainees” by the end of the year.

The two sides also pledged to disengage military forces in three additional regions of Ukraine by the end of March 2020, without specifying which regions would be affected.

Additional talks will be held in four months to take stock of the ceasefire’s progress.

At a press conference after the talks in France’s Elysée Palace, President Putin hailed them as an “important step” towards a de-escalation of the conflict.

President Zelensky said the issue of Russian gas exports via pipelines through Ukraine had been “unblocked” after a dispute about transit tariffs, and an agreement would now be worked out.

But Russia and Ukraine continue to disagree on issues such as the withdrawal of Russian-backed troops, and elections in areas of Ukraine held by the separatist rebels.

Mr Putin also called for a change in Ukraine’s constitution to give special status to the Donbas region, which is held by the rebels. He also pushed for an amnesty for people who had taken part in the seizure of Ukrainian territory.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, are of the view that there is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict.

It is for this reason therefore that they urged the parties involved in the negotiation of a ceasefire to face their responsibilities and implement the agreed plan.

They called for the return of Russian officers to the joint centre for control and coordination in Ukraine, which is helping to facilitate the ceasefire, after their recent withdrawal.

A civil war has been waged between Pro-Russia separatists and Pro-US government forces as a result of US’ meddling in the affairs of the two countries and instigating Ukraine against Russia.

Kiev has accused Moscow of sending troops and heavy weapons to the region, which Russia denies, while Washington, which should not have any business in the region, had been arming and training Ukraine’s forces to fight Russia.