Ukraine summit agrees ceasefire, withdrawal of weapons: Putin

‘We have agreed on a ceasefire from midnight Feb. 15,’ Russian President Putin says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he and the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine had agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s frontlines and a ceasefire to begin from February 15.

“We have managed to agree on the main points,” Putin told reporters in the Belarussian capital Minsk after marathon talks that began Wednesday evening.

“We have agreed on a ceasefire from midnight Feb. 15,” he said.

“The second point that I believe to be extremely important is the withdrawal of heavy weapons from today’s line of contact for Ukrainian troops and from the line stipulated in the Sep. 19 Minsk agreements for Donbass rebels.”

Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko said Kiev and pro-Russian rebels had signed off on a roadmap to implement the deal aimed at ending 10 months of conflict.

“The contact group signed a document that we prepared with a great deal of tension,” Poroshenko said.

Putin said they had agreed “a set of measures to implement the Minsk agreements,” referring to the widely disregarded September peace deal also agreed in the Belarussian capital.

Putin also stressed the importance of constitutional reform and the implementation of a “special status” for the rebel-held areas in industrial eastern Ukraine.

“We proceed from the assumption that all parties will show restraint in the nearest future, before the start of the ceasefire,” the Russian strongman added.

He said the Minsk talks had dragged on for so long because Kiev was unwilling to directly negotiate with rebels.

“Even though they have not been recognized, one needs to take into account the realities of life,” said Putin.

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