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Ukraine hostage exchange likely on Saturday

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Ukraine hostage exchange likely on Saturday


Kyiv officials and pro-Russian rebels are expected to swap hostages on Saturday following a ceasefire deal that could end five months of bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.

After around 2,600 deaths from the fighting, President Petro Poroshenko said both sides must do everything possible to “put an end to people’s suffering”.

“This ceasefire is based on the agreement which was reached during my phone conversations with Russian President Putin. That’s why I think that this is very important that stability, the fact that this ceasefire should last, is now our common responsibility,” Poroshenko said at an impromptu press conference at the NATO summit in Wales.

The Kremlin-drafted truce, agreed during tri-lateral talks in Minsk on Friday, was cautiously welcomed but new Western sanctions against Russia will go ahead for the time being.

The pact is likely to see more autonomy for pro-Moscow regions of eastern Ukraine.

Many analysts think the ceasefire is a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and scepticism remains about whether the Kremlin-backed rebels he backs will keep to their end of the deal.

“In terms of what happens on the ground, I don’t think we should particularly trust him (Putin). His strategic goals remain the same as before. They are at complete loggerheads with NATO’s strategic goals and these things can’t really be reconciled so I think the conflict will keep on lingering,” said political analyst Jan Techau from Carnegie Europe.

The Ukraine crisis topped the agenda at the NATO summit, which wrapped up in Wales on Friday.

Reporting from Newport, euronews correspondent James Franey said:

NATO leaders have given this the ceasefire deal a cautious welcome here in Wales. But many challenges remain. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insists the territorial integrity is not up for discussion; rebels say their goal remains to split from Ukraine. Simply making this deal stick will be the biggest hurdle of all to clear.​”

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