Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms.
Putin told reporters that the cease-fire will be effective starting from Sunday, but he added that he and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko disagreed on assessing the situation in a key flashpoint.
The government-controlled town of Debaltseve, a key transport hub between the two main rebel-controlled cities in the east, has been the focus of intense fighting in recent weeks as the rebels sought to encircle the Ukrainian troops there.
Putin said that the rebels consider the Ukrainian forces surrounded and expect them to surrender, while Ukraine disagrees with that.
He added that they agreed with Poroshenko to clarify the situation. Putin urged the warring parties to show restraint.
Poroshenko said the parties agreed to help Ukraine reclaim the control of the border with Russia.
He told reporters that heavy weaponry will be withdrawn from both sides by 50 to 70 kilometers (31-43 miles) in the next two weeks. He also said that the parties agreed to make sure Ukraine reclaims the control of all of the country’s border, some of it is now controlled by Russia-backed separatists.
Putin’s statement followed the talks brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, which dragged for more than 15 hours deep into a second day Thursday as the four leaders desperately sought to resolve their differences.
The Russian leader said that the peace deal they reached also determines a division line from which heavy weapons will be pulled back and contains provision for providing a special status for the rebellious regions, solving humanitarian issues and settling issues related to border control.