Hopes are growing in eastern Ukraine that the overall cease-fire is taking hold, although sporadic fighting continues.
Removing heavy weaponry from a designated buffer zone has been constructive. The pro-Russian rebels have started getting their artillery and missile launchers out of areas where the Ukrainian military has already done so.
The buffer zone is 30 km deep along the disputed front. The deal is to get rid of any calibre weapon that is more than 100 mm. Both sides agreed to stop all military activity along the line.
The nine-point memorandum aimed at consolidating the cease-fire of September 5th was signed in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday, by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini and representatives Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko of the self-proclaimed separatist republics in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on the following day underscored in Kyiv: “It’s impossible to win the war in Luhansk and Donetsk just by military means. The more Ukrainian army units are brought up, the more Russian troops appear.”
The deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Andrei Purgin said: “I hope a complete ceasefire, vehicle and troop pullouts and so on will be achieved soon but I can’t say exactly when. There are many grey areas and military problems that have been addressed in haste.”
Donetsk Airport is a hot spot, partly in the hands of Ukrainian government forces. It sees shooting almost every day.
The future status of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is still in suspense. So far, the rebels have shunned Kyiv’s proposals that they settle for more autonomy.
Ordinary residents are still at risk. Dozens of people have been killed in fighting since the provisional cease-fire deal took effect.
Almost 3,000 lives have been lost in the five-month armed conflict.