KYIV, Ukraine—Ukrainian and rebel forces in war-torn eastern Ukraine have started preparing for a “full and comprehensive” cease-fire scheduled to begin at midnight, a move that officials hope can lead to more steps to resolve the 6-year-old conflict.
Rebel officials said Sunday they have instructed their troops about the cease-fire and issued a decree banning the use of weapons. Ukraines military said their forces “have begun preparations” for the ceasefire.
If upheld, it would “pave the way for implementing other clauses” of the Minsk peace deal, the office of Ukraines president said earlier this week, calling the cease-fire a “breakthrough.”
Brokered in 2015 by France and Germany, the Minsk peace plan aimed to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists that flared in 2014 after Russias annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatists. The conflict has since killed more than 14,000.
The presidents of Russia and Ukraine both commended the cease-fire deal in a phone call Sunday and underscored the importance of implementing the agreements reached at the December summit in Paris.
Russia President Vladimir Putin expressed concern over Kyivs calls to revise the Minsk agreements and said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiys “position about the non-alternative nature of the Minsk agreements, once again voiced during this call, should translate into real actions,” the Kremlin said.
Zelenskiy in turn, stressed the need “for further practical steps” aimed at releasing Ukrainians who are imprisoned by rebels in eastern Ukraine, in the annexed region of Crimea and in Russia, according to a statement by his office.