As promised, Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko ordered a cease-fire in the country’s southeast Friday, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern time, or early evening in the region.
The cease-fire indicates that Ukrainian leaders have reached an agreement with rebel and Russian representatives at a meeting with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, held in Minsk. Fighting, which had raged for most of the day, is said to have simmered down.
Other provisions include a jobs program for the region, and regional governors.
“With respect to the cease-fire agreement, obviously we are hopeful but based on past experience also skeptical that in fact the separatists will follow through and the Russians will stop violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. So it has to be tested,” said U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking from Wales. He also warned Russia that new sanctions for its role in the conflict are forthcoming.
According to the New York Times, the agreement is similar to one proposed by Poroshenko in June, and not at all similar to the seven-point Ukraine-loses plan Putin casually drafted on his way to Mongolia.
It included amnesty for all those who disarm and who did not commit serious crimes, as well as the release of all hostages. Militias will be disbanded and a ten-kilometer buffer zone — about six miles — established along the Russian-Ukrainian border. A prisoner exchange was set to begin as early as Saturday, according to Interfax-Ukraine.
The area will be subject to joint patrols. The separatists agreed to leave the administrative buildings they control and to allow broadcasts from Ukraine to resume on local television.
For the future, the agreement said power would be decentralized and the Russian language protected. An early, failed attempt by the Ukrainian government to ban Russian as an official language was one of the elements that inspired the uprising.
Journalists in the region reported Ukrainian tanks withdrawing from contested areas.