Ukraine, Separatists Agree To Cease-Fire During Holidays
December 23, 2015
Ukraine has reached an agreement with Russia-backed separatists for a truce during the Christmas and New Year holidays that went into effect at midnight on December 22.
A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian peace negotiator said the new deal was forged in the Belarusian capital Minsk during the latest round of peace talks.
'We have an agreement about a complete and unconditional cease-fire that will begin at 00.00 hours on the night of December 22-23,' said Darka Olifer, who is press secretary for Ukrainian negotiator and former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, writing on her Facebook page.
'This initiative is especially needed so that civilians who live in [the separatist east] can spend Christmas and the New Year holidays in peace.'
'We express our expectations and hope that the people of eastern Ukraine can enjoy their New Year and Christmas days in peace and keep these conditions in the future,' said Martin Sajdik, the head envoy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Most Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and Russia celebrate Christmas on January 7.
A representative from the partially separatist-held Luhansk province said a new agreement was needed because of repeated violations of an existing truce that was loosely enforced.
In Pictures: Ukraine's Frontline Soldiers Prepare For Winter
Sajdik said the two sides had also agreed to limit their troop and tank movements along the 500-kilometer front.
'We have agreed that the sides will refrain from conducting any military maneuvers, and also reduce to a minimum any movement of forces,' he said.
The warring sides had agreed to a September 1 truce that significantly reduced exchanges of artillery and missile fire along a 30-kilometer buffer zone separating the conflict area from the rest of Ukraine.
But a new upsurge in violence last week had threatened to unravel the September deal.
Kyiv on December 22 reported 30 truce breaches by the insurgents along the front line.
The United Nations says more than 9,000 people -- most of them civilians -- have died since the separatist revolt began in April 2014.
With reporting by AFP, Interfax, and TASS
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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