The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France have reached an agreement to end the fighting in war torn Ukraine. The nation has been engulfed in conflict for nearly a year as Russian backed separatists have fought the central government for control of the eastern portion of the country that borders Russia. Western powers believe Russia is supplying weapons and soldiers to the rebels cause.
The agreement would initiate a ceasefire on February 15th. Heavy weapons would be pulled from the war zone by both sides. All prisoners would be released, and amnesty would be granted to those involved in the fighting. Foreign fighters would have to withdraw, and illegal groups would have to disband.
The agreement also calls for constitutional reforms that would decentralize the rebel held regions of Ukraine, giving more local control to the eastern region of the country. The central government would lift all restrictions on the region, allowing a return to normal daily life for the citizens of the area. If these goals are reached, the central government would be allowed to take control of the border with Russia.
This is not the first peace agreement in a conflict that has claimed at least 5,400 lives. Previous efforts have failed to last, and there are many obstacles in the way of the current solution.
The troubles in Ukraine began with the Russian seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. Russia has long held a base on the land. Russia has stopped short of a full blown invasion of Ukraine, instead sending in unmarked soldiers who the world has taken to calling “little green men” to aid rebel forces in the fighting. Russian President Vladimir Putin has subsequently denied sending forces to Ukraine, claiming he has no control over the rebels.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine are a result of the country’s shift towards the West. Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from office by massive protests, and the country seemed poised to leave Russia’s sphere of influence. With NATO surrounding Russia on its western borders, the former Soviet Union was unwilling to watch Ukraine fall into the West’s hands.