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Ukraine, Rebels Declare Start of Cease-Fire

Announcement made by negotiators in Minsk

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who on Friday announced that a ceasefire would take effect starting 6 PM on Friday.  (Photo:  European Council)

Ukraine and rebel factions announced Friday that a cease-fire deal had been reached, bringing hopes for an end to nearly five months of violence that the UN says has claimed the lives of over 2,500 people and displaced more than 260,000.

Negotiators from Ukraine, Russia, the rebel groups and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) made the declaration from Minsk, Belarus, where they were holding talks.

According to reporting by the Associated Press and BBC News, the ceasefire is part of a 12-point plan reached by the envoys.

“I give the order to the chief of the General staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to cease fire, starting from 18.00 on September 5,” a statement from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reads.

“We must do everything possible and impossible to stop bloodshed and put an end to people’s suffering,” the statement continues.

Alexander Zakharchenko, the rebel leader from the Donetsk region, added, "The ceasefire will allow us to save not only civilians' lives, but also the lives of the people who took up arms in order to defend their land and ideals."

While the peace talks in Minsk led to the ceasefire announcement, NATO leaders continued a summit in Wales on Friday, where they approved a "spearhead" force to be based in Eastern Europe. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the force "sends a clear message to any potential aggressor: Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance."

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