A ceasefire in eastern Ukraine looks like it’s finally taking hold, two weeks after the Minsk agreement was signed.
Despite refusing to proceed with a military withdrawal until rebels ceased fire, officials in Kiev have now acknowledged that the frontline is much quieter.
Ukrainian commander Victor Sherdluh is waiting for the order to pullback heavy weapons.
“Yesterday and before yesterday, there was still fighting. Our troops were under attack. That’s why we didn’t pull the heavy weapons back. We’ll see if the ceasefire will hold, as it was today in the afternoon. Then we can talk about pulling back,” he said.
At Donetsk airport which rebels seized last month, captured Ukrainian troops have been retrieving bodies of fellow soldiers killed in the fighting.
One rebel commander said many more bodies were buried under the collapsed terminal building.
“If Ukrainian forces do not attack us, we will remove these bodies and give them to their mothers to bury them. These guys were fighting here, I do not know what for. It was according to the order of their president. They respected that order. So all of us are military and we have to respect our enemy,” said Mikhail Tolstykh.
The separatists have promised that international monitors will soon be able to verify that they have removed all heavy weapons.
Kiev fears the rebels, backed by Russian troops, may now be planning to capture Mariupol, a port of 500,000 people.