Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed on Thursday to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine that is set to begin on February 15th.
“We have managed to agree to the main issues” Putin said on Thursday in reference to the ceasefire agreement.
After more than 16 hours of talks that stretched all night, leaders from France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine met together in Minsk, Belarus to achieve a lasting peace agreement for eastern Ukraine after months of bloody fighting between Ukrainian military forces and pro- Russian separatists.
An earlier ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk last September ended in early January after fighting resumed.
Russian President Putin said that the new agreement today establishes a line from which heavy artillery must be pulled back.
Prior to the talks, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko admitted that achieving a ceasefire was essential for his beleaguered country which comes after Ukraine’s military experienced heavy pounding from separatists on Wednesday near Debaltseve, resulting in 19 Ukrainian soldiers dying.
Besides establishing a ceasefire and a pullback line for artillery, one of the other main goals was to create a demilitarized zone in war torn eastern Ukraine.
More details of the agreement is expected to be revealed later in the day.
U.S. Army Europe Commander Ben Hodges said on Wednesday that Russian troops were intervening directly in the fighting in the Debaltseve area of eastern Ukraine.
President Obama admitted that he would wait to see the outcome of Wednesday’s talks in Minsk before deciding if the United States should send arms to Ukraine’s military.
The outcome of the decision is also being watched closely in Brussels where a scheduled EU Summit today will bring together EU leaders and a decision will be made about slapping additional sanctions on Russia for their involvement in supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, a claim that Moscow denies.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is currently working out the details of a $ 17.5 billion bailout for Ukraine which is nearly bankrupt.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is expected to provide a statement on Thursday.
The EU will be contributing money as well to Ukraine’s $40 billion package to keep the country solvent.