Ukraine’s Russian-backed separatists say they have agreed with Ukrainian officials on a ceasefire at peace talks in Minsk.
“Representatives of Ukraine and Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic signed a ceasefire protocol from 6pm on Friday,” the Twitter account of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic said, without providing further details.
Officials on the ground in the Belarussian capital Minsk were not immediately available to confirm the statement.
The OSCE, which hosted the talks, said the ceasefire would begin at 1500 GMT on Friday (0100 AEST Saturday).
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Friday that Russia must withdraw its forces from the war-torn country for the proposed truce with rebel insurgents to hold.
“The peace plan must include a ceasefire, the withdrawal of the Russian army, bandits and terrorists, and the re-establishment of the border,” Yatsenyuk told a cabinet meeting shortly after talks on the ceasefire plan opened in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
He also called for the United States and Europe to act as guarantors to a ceasefire with pro-Moscow rebels.
“It must be supported by the United States and the EU. We will not manage with Russia on our own… we need guarantees,” Yatsenyuk told a cabinet meeting moments before rebels announced that a truce deal had been agreed at talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
Also shortly after the rebel announcement, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his envoy had signed a “preliminary” truce deal with pro-Russian militants aimed at halting the five months of fighting that has claimed 2600 lives.
“A preliminary protocol to the ceasefire agreement has been signed in Minsk. This protocol should enter into force on Friday,” Poroshenko wrote on his official Twitter account.
He also ordered his army commander to halt fire in Kiev’s campaign against pro-Russian insurgents at 1500 GMT on Friday (0100 AEST Saturday) under the terms of a new truce deal.
“I am ordering the head of the general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine to halt fire starting at 6 pm (1500 GMT),” Poroshenko said on his website.