“Glimmer of hope” for Ukraine after ceasefire agreement reached

World Today

A deal was finally reached at the peace summit in Minsk offering a glimmer of hope to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine. CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reported this story from Kiev.

Glimmer of hope for Ukraine after ceasefire agreement reached

A deal was finally reached at the peace summit in Minsk offering a glimmer of hope to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine. CCTV's Kate Parkinson reported this story from Kiev.

A ceasefire will come into effect on Sunday followed by the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline and constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy.

“Overall, I can say that what we have achieved gives us a lot more hope than if he had not achieved anything. That’s why it can be said that this initiative was worth it,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

“Towards the end President Putin also put pressure on the separatists so that they agreed for a ceasefire from Saturday at 2400 hours, or Sunday at zero hours. I am under no illusion and we are under no illusion that a lot of work is still necessary but there is a real chance to improve things. Germany and France, France and Germany together showed that we have made a contribution, in accordance with Europe.”

But big hurdles remain on the path to peace and there were clearly still tensions between Putin and the other leaders.

“It wasn’t the very best night of my life, but the morning in my view was kind, because despite all of the difficulties in the process, we managed to agree on the main issues. By the way, speaking of why the agreement took so long, I think it’s connected with the fact that the Kiev authorities, up until now, refuse primary contact with Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics,” Putin said.

Leaders of the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” said they are satisfied with the outcome but said the onus is on Kiev to keep the peace.

“All the responsibility for breaking or non-compliance with any agreements will be on (Ukrainian president) Petro Poroshenko. All points (of the agreement) require further consultations, the talks are still continuing, that’s why any violation or non-compliance with those points will lead to no more memorandums in the future under no circumstances,” Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of self proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” said.

In a further sign of ongoing tensions, there was no joint statement or signing ceremony and Poroshenko excluded Russian journalists when he briefed the media after the talks closed.

“I can say that everything was difficult, and in fact various unacceptable conditions were put to us – conditions of retreat, of surrender. We did not succumb to a single ultimatum and clearly defended out position that a ceasefire be announced without any preliminary conditions,” Poroshenko said.

But the ceasefire won’t go into effect immediately.

The delay in implementing the ceasefire potentially gives both sides the time to grab more ground. The separatists may use the next two days to finish off their assault on the government-held town of Debaltseve. There could still be days of heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine before the guns fall silent.