There is now a new deadline set for the cease-fire in Ukraine. The leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia came together via telephone conference on Thursday Feb. 19 to discuss the new situation.
This happens a day after Ukraine gave up the Debaltseve region to pro-Russian separatists as a result of the heavy fighting during the last few days. Ukraine had declared that the rebels were violating the Minks agreement but no one is talking about giving up on the cease-fire deal.
Spokespeople for the French president declared that “the four leaders agreed to rigorously implement the entirety of the package of measures agreed February 12 in Minsk.”
The negotiations between the four leaders ended after 17 hours of discussions. On Feb. 12, it was decided on a cease-fire with the cessation of military actions by both Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists, followed by political changes regarding the increase of autonomy in the separatist areas. Another aspect of the Minsk negotiations regarded the exchange of prisoners which was set on March 7 the very latest. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that president Putin “agreed to influence the separatists in this regard.”
The Unites States was considering of allowing the Ukrainian president’s request for lethal military aid in case the cease-fire wouldn’t come into effect but no decision has been made up until now. Russia had already discouraged this decision, considering it a direct threat to its safety.
Ukrainian officials reported that the armed conflicts were declining although a number of attacks were announced in regions close to the airport, in the separatist capital Donetsk and near Mariupol, a port city. It was also reported that 14 Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives in the last 24 hours.
Although both sides are now withdrawing military forces, tensions are still high between Ukraine and the rebels as Kiev started to reduce the amount of gas that supplies the separatist area. It the Minks agreement it is stated that gas supply should be reestablished once the cease-fire is enabled
The Donetsk rebel capital said it would soon be able to obtain fuel supplies from Russia while Luhansk, another separatist region, is facing a “possible ice age” is gas supplies are not restored soon.
Image Source: The Wire