The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France reached an agreement on Thursday to begin a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

After more than 15 hours of talks in Minsk, with a short break this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that it had reached an agreement “on major issues” and that the ceasefire would take effect on 15 February.

French President François Hollande, also spoke of an agreement and of a “general political settlement”, but pointed out that there is still much work to do to achieve peace in the area, which has entered its tenth month of conflict.

While speaking about the ceasefire, Putin said Russia “will not stand aside” if the US decides to supply weapons to the government of Ukraine. According to Putin, this weapons would serve Ukraine to attack and kill people in the east of the country. The same concern was put out by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

“If this happens, you will have dramatic consequences in Ukraine, and people living in the Southeast will lose all perspective standards,” said Ryabkov to reporters.

He added that, despite the current debate within the US administration about the possible delivery of defensive armament to Ukraine, these weapons will be used to kill people, in all probability”.

“Those weapons will kill our countrymen, and we can not stand aside,” he said.

The US president, Barack Obama, had stated that if diplomacy failed, he woukd evaluate all available options, including the provision of defensive weaponry to Kiev.

The statements made by Riabkov were published before the start of negotiations in Minsk, where the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France sought to achieve a settlement to the war in eastern Ukraine, which has lasted ten months with a dead count of 6,000 people, according to UN data.

The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, warned at his arrival in Minsk that in case of failure during the summit, the situation in eastern Ukraine would be “virtually irreparable”.

“The whole world is waiting: either the situation enters a phase of escalation, agreement, ceasefire, withdrawal of weapons and end the murder of people, or the situation will most likely be  irreparable,” Poroshenko said at a meeting with the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko.

“I am convinced that there is a risk that the situation gets out of control,” he added.

Earlier in Kiev, Poroshenko said he would not hesitate to implement martial law in Ukraine if the offense continues in the East.

Putin and the other leaders, who gathered at the Palace of Independence in the Belarusian capital since yesterday evening, have spoken about several issues, which include a ceasefire starting on  February 15, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, creating a buffer zone and economic measures.

The buffer zone would consist of between 50 and 70 kilometers. The fighters should leave the dimilitarized zone and remove their heavy weapons within a maximum of 14 days from today, has stated the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, at the exit of the meeting, reported France Presse.

Meanwhile, the United States intends to train at least three battalions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in March, a move that was announced today by the head of US forces in Europe, General Frederick Hodges. The training will take place in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine.

The training will focus, as reported, on the defense of bridges and other strategic points. It will also include operations with artillery to attack and protect was well as instructions on health issues.

On Tuesday night, the leaders of the rebels who control the East presented a proposal with 15 points, which spoke of a ceasefire that had been declared at ten o’clock today. The document also demanded the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the Ukrainian troops and militias such as the Right Sector, a neo-Nazi group that is doing the dirty work for Kiev. .This group is said to be responsible for continuous attacks on civilian population and public infrastructure that cost the lives of dozens of people.

One of the most thorny issues that the leaders in MInsk had to negotiate was the management of the border between Ukraine and Russia, an area not controlled by Kiev where groups that seek independence from Kiev are holding their ground until today.

Ukraine and Western countries want to have the border be managed by the OSCE, but the pro-Independence groups consider that the control by the OSCE can only arise when the regulatory process has reached the point where they can feel safe.
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