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Ukraine And Pro-Russia Rebels Sign Cease-Fire Agreement

Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels signed a cease-fire deal Friday that would go into effect the same day at 6 p.m. local time.
Posted at 12:51 PM, Sep 05, 2014

The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels who have been fighting in Eastern Ukraine have signed a deal that will hopefully bring the monthslong conflict to an end.

Negotiators from all sides told reporters at a press conference the cease-fire deal would go into effect Friday at 15:00 GMT, or 6 p.m. local time.

And Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed the agreement soon after, tweeting"In Minsk a preliminary protocol on an agreement for a cease-fire has been signed. This protocol will come into force on Friday."

The BBC reports the deal consisted of between 12 and 14 points, including a halt to "active offensive operations" by both the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russian separatists, international cease-fire monitoring, unconditional prisoner exchanges and humanitarian aid corridors.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Critical hours ahead. We're going to watch closely southeastern Ukraine to see if both sides heed the cease-fire and finally end the fighting."

But The New York Times points out some doubted the strength of the agreement almost immediately after reports surfaced Friday morning of continued fighting around Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.

Friday's announcement came just a few hours after representatives of Ukraine, Russia, pro-Russian rebels and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe met in Belarus' capital to negotiate the much-anticipated cease-fire.

Rebels the U.S. and Ukraine say are backed by Russia have clashed with government troops in Eastern Ukraine since mid-April. The U.N. estimates the bloody conflict has taken the lives of nearly 2,600 people. (Video via Euronews)

Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed an outline of a peace deal earlier this week. However, that led to confusion when Poroshenko announced a cease-fire and the Kremlin then said Russia couldn't agree to anything because it wasn't even involved in the conflict.

And NATO's secretary general expressed some skepticism of Russia's motives at the NATO summit in Wales Thursday.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN"What counts is what is actually happening on the ground ... We continue to call on Russia to pull back troops from the border."

The finer details of the deal have yet to be finalized.