The Two-Way
10:03 am
Fri September 5, 2014

In Ukraine, Cease-Fire Between Government, Separatists Takes Hold

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 1:43 pm

This post was updated at 1 p.m. ET.

The government of Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the east say they have stopped fighting, honoring a cease-fire that took effect late Friday afternoon local time.

NPR's Corey Flintoff tells our Newscast unit that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered a cease-fire once separatists agreed to peace talks at a meeting in Belarus.

During a televised press conference, Poroshenko said the peace deal was forged based on a phone conversation he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"That's why I think this is very important," he said. "And why this cease-fire should last."

Corey adds:

"Ukrainian representatives met the separatists, along with representatives from Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"The negotiations come as Ukrainian troops came under heavy fire from militant forces in Donetsk and near the southern port city of Mariupol.

"Ukraine, the United States and NATO say the separatists are being joined in the assault by elite Russian troops with heavy artillery.

"Russia denies any involvement in the fighting."

On his twitter account, Poroshenko said he had ordered his military to stop fighting at 11 a.m. ET.

Human life, he added, is of the highest value.

"We must do everything possible to stop the bloodshed and put an end to the suffering," Poroshenko tweeted.

It's worth noting that previous cease-fire deals have fallen apart quickly.

Reuters also reports that not much has changed as far as the position of each party is concerned. Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, told Reuters that despite the cease-fire deal, it will still seek independence from Ukraine.

As we reported, the potential for a cease-fire was being watched closely by the members of NATO meeting in Wales on Friday.

During a press conference, President Obama said the U.S. was "hopeful, but based on past experiences also skeptical" about the brand-new cease-fire that took effect Friday in Ukraine.

Separately, as well as an alliance, NATO members had stepped up their rhetoric in regard to Russia, warning that if Russia invaded a member nation, it would face the full force of NATO, including the United States military.

To that end, NATO announced it was deploying several thousand troops in Eastern Europe and warned that more stringent sanctions could be placed on Russia by member states if it did not de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.

The cease-fire announced Friday fits in with a seven-point peace plan outlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. Cease-Fire Based On Deal With Putin:

Speaking to reporters in Newport, United Kingdom, Poroshenko said this cease-fire was based on his peace plan and on an agreement he hashed out with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone.

"That's why I think this is very important," he said. "And why this cease-fire should last."

Poroshenko said he is prepared to take "significant steps" toward peace, including the release of prisoners and guaranteeing the protection of Russian culture and language in the eastern part of the country.

The peace plan, he added, is also "based on the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of my country."

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