A ceasefire deal was reached Thursday after marathon talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk aimed at ending the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine. The deal stipulates that a ceasefire will go into effect between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists starting on Sunday, followed by a withdrawal of heavy weapons alongside constitutional reforms granting the region more autonomy.
The deal between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany offers a “glimmer of hope” that the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the region could come to an end, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a report by Reuters. However, leaders agree that that there is still a long way to go in addressing the conflict that has left more than 5,000 people dead in the past 10 months. Read the unofficial translation of the full text of the agreement, provided by the Russian news agency Interfax, below:
"1. An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions and its strict implementation starting at 0000 (Kiev time) on 15 February 2015.
2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides at equal distances in order to create a security zone to be at least 50-km-wide from each other for 100mm or bigger calibre artillery systems, a 70-km-wide security zone for MLRS [multiple launch rocket systems], and a 140-km-wide security zone for Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch MLRS and Tochka-U tactical missile systems:
- For the Ukrainian troops: from the factual contact line;
- For the armed formations of certain areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions: from the contact line according to the Minsk memorandum of 19 September 2014.
The withdrawal of the abovementioned heavy weapons shall begin no later than on the second day after the ceasefire and shall end within 14 days.
The OSCE will facilitate this process with the support of the Tripartite Contact Group.
3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from the first day of the withdrawal, with the use of all necessary technical means, including satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, radar systems and so on.
4. On the first day following the withdrawal, to start the dialogue on the modalities of holding local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and Ukraine's law "On the special procedure of local self-governance in some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions" as well as on a future regime of these districts on the basis of this law.
Immediately, no later than in 30 days since the date of the signing of the given document, to adopt a Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian parliament] resolution to specify the territory to which the special regime applies in accordance with the law of Ukraine "On the special procedure of local self-governance in some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions" on the basis of the line set by the Minsk memorandum of 19 September 2014.
5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by putting into force a law that would ban persecution and punishment of individuals in connection with the events that took place in some areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
6. Ensure the release and exchange of all the hostages and illegally held individuals on the basis of the "all for all" principle. This process should be completed no later then on the fifth day after the withdrawal.
7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage and distribution of humanitarian aid among those who need it on the basis of an international mechanism.
8. Definition of the modalities of a complete restoration of socio-economic ties, including social transfers, such as pension payments or other payments (receipts and income, paying the utility bills on time and renewing taxation within the framework of Ukraine's legal field).
To meet these objectives, Ukraine will restore control over the segment of its banking system in the areas affected by the conflict, and an international mechanism to facilitate these transfers may be set up.
9. Restoration of full control over the state border in the whole zone of the conflict on the part of the Ukrainian government, which should begin on the first day after local elections and finish after an all-inclusive political settlement (local elections in separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of Ukraine's law, and constitutional reform) by the end of 2015, providing the implementation of clause 11 - in consultations and with the agreement of representatives of separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions within the framework of the Tripartite Contact Group.
10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military hardware and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory under the OSCE's supervision. Disarmament of all illegal groups.
11. Realization of constitutional reform in Ukraine, with the new constitution to enter into force by the end of 2015, and assuming as a key element the decentralization (taking into account the peculiarities of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as agreed with representatives of these districts), and the enactment of permanent legislation on the special status of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in accordance with the measures specified in the footnotes, until the end of 2015 (see footnotes)
12. Issues related to local elections shall be discussed and agreed with representatives of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions within the framework of the Tripartite Contact Group on the basis of the Ukrainian law "On the temporary procedure for local self-government in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions". Elections shall be held in compliance with the relevant OSCE standards and monitored by the OSCE ODIHR [Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights].
13. Intensification of the activities of the Tripartite Contact Group, including by means of establishing working groups to fulfil the respective aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Tripartite Contact Group.
Such measures in accordance with the law "On the special procedure of local self-governance in some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions" include the following:
- Freedom from punishment, persecution and discrimination for individuals connected to the events that took place in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions;
- Right to self-determination of language;
- Participation of local governing bodies in the appointment of heads of prosecution bodies and courts in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions;
- The state will provide support to the socio-economic development of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions;
- Assistance from the central executive bodies with cross-border cooperation between certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and regions of the Russian Federation;
- Creation of people's police detachments by the decision of local councils with the aim of maintaining social order in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions;
- The powers of local council deputies and public servants elected during pre-term elections called by the Ukrainian Supreme Council via this law cannot be prematurely terminated.
This document has been signed by the participants in the Tripartite Contact Group:
[OSCE] Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini
Second President of Ukraine L. [Leonid] Kuchma
Russian Ambassador to Ukraine M. [Mikhail] Zurabov
A. [Aleksandr or Oleksandr] Zakharchenko
I. [Igor or Ihor] Plotnitskiy [Plotnytskyy]"