Last week’s “unilateral ceasefire” in Ukraine lasted only a few hours before erupting in bloody fighting, but this time both sides seem to have some momentum behind stopping their fighting, with the separatist rebels promising to honor the ceasefire through Friday.
That allowed the first serious talks between the rebels and the government to be held today in Donetsk, in a meeting that also saw OSCE and Russian representatives in attendance.
Both sides are aiming to reach some sort of settlement of the conflict, but after weeks of ugly clashes there is a lot of distrust to overcome before any pact can actually be reached.
The ethnic-Russian easterners began protesting after the ouster of the pro-Russian government, and have sought increased autonomy or potentially outright secession from the new government. After attempts to crush the protests, they erupted into a full-fledged rebellion, which controls much of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
Since his election, President Petro Poroshenko has given lip-service to settling the conflict, though he is also under intense pressure from hawkish factions in parliament to crush the rebels by force of arms.