Russia, Ukraine Leaders Approve Ceasefire Deal, Prisoner Exchange

Published December 10th, 2019 - 09:50 GMT
(FromL) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin give a press conference after a summit on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on December 9, 2019. (AFP/ File Photo)
(FromL) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin give a press conference after a summit on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on December 9, 2019. (AFP/ File Photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to a cease-fire Monday, moving the two countries closer to ending a standoff in the Donbas region.

The agreement, brokered by France and Germany in Paris' Elyess Palace, states that Russia and Ukraine are committed to a "full and comprehensive implementation of the ceasefire" and the exchange of conflict-related detainees by year's end.

"We have said once again how important it is to have a dialogue between parties," Putin said.

Zelensky called it "a big step toward peace."

The four sides are to meet again in four months to discuss conditions for elections in eastern Ukraine, a sticky issue for both sides, but Zelensky said he is confident the meeting will be held and they will all be in a position to "go forward and address other questions on the basis of our achievements."

The talks were aimed at edging the two sides closer to ending a conflict that broke out in 2014 in eastern Ukraine that has cost the lives of some 13,000 people.

Though not a major breakthrough, the countries made "practical, tangible progress," French President Emmanuel Macron said.

"We haven't found the magic wand, but we have relaunched talks," he said.


For Zelensky, who has found himself intertwined in the impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump, the meeting was a chance to achieve a campaign promise to bring peace to eastern Ukraine.

Putin may have already scored an early victory by getting Zelensky to agree to pull back from three areas along the front line as a condition to start the talks, a concession that angered some supporters.

Zelensky said before the meeting he wanted "tangible" results, such as the release of Ukrainian prisoners and enforcing a cease-fire in the Donbas region.

"Since 2016 there was no dialogue, which means there was no opportunity to talk about ending the war," he said.

There were some demonstrators on the street outside Elysee Palace involving protesters who opposed Putin's visit.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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