Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday announced a cease-fire intended to end a 5-month-old conflict in the east of his nation that has killed more than 2,600 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
The agreement was reached in talks between his government, Russian officials, pro-Russia separatists and European mediators in the Belarus capital of Minsk. Heavy fighting in the southern city of Mariupol preceded the announced deadline for the cease-fire to take effect.
Human life has the highest value and we must do everything possible and impossible to stop the bloodshed and put an end to human suffering,” Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the official presidential website.
Poroshenko said that he had ordered Ukrainian troops to cease fire at 6 p.m. following an appeal from Russia President Vladimir Putin for leaders of the rebellion in eastern Ukraine to do the same.
The Ukrainian leader told reporters in Wales, where he was attending a NATO summit, that the agreement included “12 practical steps for establishing peace and stability,” but he did not lay out what those measures would be.
“Now it is very important that this cease-fire lasts long and during this cease-fire we continue the political dialogue that can bring the peace and stability on Donbass,” said Poroshenko, referring to the region of eastern Ukraine where the fighting has been intense.
A spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which helped negotiate the truce, was reached by the Los Angeles Times by phone but also would not confirm details of the deal.
The Associated Press reported that Alexander Zakharchenko, the rebel leader from the Donetsk region, said the cease-fire would “allow us to save not only civilians’ lives, but also the lives of the people who took up arms in order to defend their land and ideals.”