Ukraine Peace Talks Yield Cease-Fire Deal

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Russia negotiates gains for rebels.

The leaders of France and Germany brokered a renewed deal to end Ukraine’s conflict with Russia-backed separatists during thorny marathon negotiations, but they warned there was still much to do to ensure it doesn’t fall apart the way a September cease-fire agreement did.

The revived cease-fire offers a new hope for peace in Ukraine, but after some 16 hours of overnight negotiations many questions remained about how effective it would be at stopping the spiraling violence.

“We are at a crucial moment,” French President François Hollande said following the talks Thursday. “The next hours will be decisive.”

The texts of the documents approved in the Belarusian capital of Minsk showed concessions on both sides, although Russia’s tough negotiating appeared to have won significant gains for the rebels.

The deal calls for a cease-fire starting Sunday, with each side pulling back heavy weapons, as well as steps to give greater autonomy to the Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine—although Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Kiev had rejected the rebels’ demands for broad powers.

A key Kiev demand, backed by Western capitals, that Russia return control over its border with the separatist regions to Ukraine, was put off until the end of this year.

“The main thing we’ve achieved is the full unconditional comprehensive cease-fire from midnight on Feb. 15,” Mr. Poroshenko said.

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