New truce deal agreed between Ukraine conflicting sides
Iran Press TV
Thu Jan 14, 2016 8:11AM
The Ukrainian government and pro-Russia forces have struck a new truce deal, following the failure of a previous agreement.
The deal was agreed on Wednesday following talks between Russian and Ukrainian envoys in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, with the aid of a senior negotiator from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
A spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's peace negotiator said the new ceasefire agreement would take immediate effect in honor of the "Old New Year" holiday that was celebrated Wednesday in ex-Soviet republics.
Ukrainian and OSCE officials said the person who pushed the latest deal forward was Boris Gryzlov, an envoy picked by Russian President Vladimir Putin as his personal envoy to the peace negotiations.
"Russian representative Boris Gryzlov proposed making another attempt at reaching a ceasefire," Russian news agencies quoted OSCE negotiator Martin Sajdik as saying in Minsk.
"This proposal was supported by all of the meeting's participants," he added.
Gryzlov, a former speaker of the Russian parliament, had reportedly had a private meeting with Poroshenko before going to Minsk.
Ukrainian spokeswoman Darka Olifer said without a ceasefire, no proper solutions to "outstanding political, humanitarian and economic issues" are possible and that is why the country backs the latest initiative.
The previous "New Year and Christmas" truce had been cut on December 22, 2015, but fell apart the following day, failing to end to a 20-month crisis in eastern Ukraine that has taken over 9,000 lives so far.
Sajdik, meanwhile, said the two sides are to meet again in Minsk next week to assess the degree to which the latest truce is being observed.
The OSCE negotiator said Kiev and pro-Russia forces are planning to free a combined total of over 50 prisoners of war as soon as all the technicalities have been resolved.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out in March 2014 following a referendum in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, in which people voted overwhelmingly for unification with Russia.
The situation, however, degenerated into a major armed conflict after Kiev dispatched troops to Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 in an attempt to suppress pro-Russia forces there.
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