Ukraine signs cease-fire deal with pro-Russian rebels
Ukrainian President Poroshenko says his government and pro-Russian rebels agree to cease-fire that will take effect at 6 p.m. local time (15:00 GMT).

Kiev and pro-Russian rebels have agreed to a cease-fire in the Belarusian capital of Minsk after a five-month conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered the army to cease fire, he said in an official statement Friday. The agreement was also announced on a Twitter account linked with the rebels.

Over 2,500 people have been killed in Ukraine’s restive east since mid-April, according to United Nations estimates.

"The highest value is human life. We must do everything possible and impossible to terminate bloodshed and put an end to people's suffering," Poroshenko said.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has welcomed the ceasefire.

"The next and crucial step is for it to be it implemented in good faith,” Rasmussen said Friday. "It remains to be seen, but so far so good. I hope that this step could be the start of a constructive political process.”

NATO agreed on Friday to form a new military force capable of deploying in a matter of days, in response to ongoing tension in Ukraine and the rise of a radical Islamist insurgency in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the rebel leader of the "People Republic of Luhansk" Igor Plotnitsky said Friday that the pro-Russian separatists will continue to work to become fully independent from Ukraine.

He said the ceasefire did not mean accepting dependence on Ukraine, describing the ceasefire as a "compulsory measure”.

Seven people have been killed and 24 wounded in clashes between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the southeastern port city of Mariupol in the last twenty-four hours, said Kostyantyn Batozsky, deputy governor of Donetsk.

Unrest in eastern Ukraine has torn the region apart since April, when Kiev launched military operations in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk to restore government control after the separatists declared independence in the region.

The operations had been relatively successful in pushing the separatists back. However, amid recent accounts of the presence of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil, government forces have begun to lose ground.

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Last Modified: 2014-09-06 07:59:35
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