The government of Ukraine in Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in the east have agreed to stop fighting at 11 a.m. ET.
NPR’s Corey Flintoff reports that for now, fighting is still raging. He filed this report for our Newscast unit:
“Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he would order the ceasefire if the separatists agreed to peace talks at a meeting in Belarus.
“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 the position of both parties. Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, told Reuters that despite the cease-fire deal, they 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.
Separately, as well as an alliance, NATO members had stepped up their rhetoric in regards 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 it warned that more stringent sanctions could be placed on Russia by member states if it did not deescalate the situation in Ukraine.
The cease-fire announced today 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 based 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.”