It was unusually calm in the city of Donetsk on Tuesday (December 9) with government troops and separatists generally respecting a so-called ‘Day of Silence’ in war-ravaged eastern Ukraine.
This latest attempt at a truce may or may not last – Russia’s foreign minister believes an easing of tensions in the east is still a long way off – but Sergei Lavrov also told reporters in Moscow:
“We have hopes for the ceasefire announced today. It is not the first such announcement but this current step was very well prepared.
“There were talks between representatives on the different sides in the conflict,” Lavrov added, saying that Russian officers had been helping as requested by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.
An earlier truce agreed in September 2014 has been flouted by both government forces and pro-Russian rebels.
Fighting in the past few weeks has been intense around the international airport in Donetsk, the main separatist stronghold. The rebels are trying to wrest the ruins of the airport from government control.
It is now hoped a new round of talks will follow later this week in the Belarussian capital Minsk involving Russia, Ukraine and the separatists under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The aim is to make this latest effort a durable peace – after eight months of a conflict that has killed more than 4,300 people.