Ukraine Deal Reached, Ceasefire Will Begin Sunday

Sides to Withdraw Heavy Weapons, Exchange Prisoners

After another 17 hours of marathon talks in Minsk, Belarus, the Ukrainian civil war is once again heading for ceasefire, with officials on both sides announcing the deal, and the fighting scheduled to formally end Sunday.

Both sides are getting significant concessions, including the long-sought withdrawal of heavy weapons and artillery from the front lines between Ukrainian government territory and rebel-held Donbass.

Ukraine is also to get back Ndiya Savchenko, a pilot who is being held by the Russian government on charges of killing a pair of Russian journalists during the civil war.

The eastern rebels are being assured of future constitutional reforms, as well as economic and humanitarian considerations for civilians trapped in the front-line combat areas.

The reform promises appear similar to the ones from the September, 2014 ceasefire, which held for months, but began to fray when the reforms didn’t happen. The ceasefire finally collapsed last month, with skirmishes around the Donetsk airport giving way to a full military offensive on rebel territory.

The rebels turned the tables pretty quickly and regained some territory lost before September, meaning Donbass now includes some territory not held since last summer.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.