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Ceasefire Set To Begin In Eastern Ukraine

The truce is due to start at midnight on Monday.

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Ukrainian and rebel forces in the war-torn east of the country have begun preparations for a “full and comprehensive” ceasefire, to begin at midnight on Monday.

Rebel officials say their troops have been instructed, and issued a decree banning the use of weapons.

The Ukrainian military said its forces “have begun preparations” for the ceasefire.

If the truce is upheld, the office of Ukraine’s President said earlier this week it would “pave the way for implementing other clauses” of the Minsk peace deal.

Brokered in 2015 by France and Germany, the Minsk agreements were aimed at settling the conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists that flared up in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The agreements envisaged Ukraine can regain control over the border it shares with Russia in the areas held by separatists, only after they are granted broad self-rule and hold local elections.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who won the 2019 election on promises to end the conflict, sought to modify the timeline in the accord, so that Ukraine can gain control of its border ahead of local elections. However, the Kremlin insists the deal should be implemented exactly as it is laid out.

The Minsk deal helped to reduce the scope of fighting, but Ukrainian and rebel forces have continued to exchange artillery and gunfire.

EU officials welcomed the new ceasefire deal, reached on Wednesday.

Pope Francis, during his Sunday blessing in St Peter’s Square, also praised the agreement.

He said it must be put into practice to ″to rebuild confidence and lay the foundations for a much needed and long awaited reconciliation with the people”.