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article imageRussia agrees to separate warring factions in Ukraine

By Nathan Salant     Sep 22, 2014 in World
Minsk - Russian Federation negotiators have agreed to a deal to keep Ukraine's armed forces from attacking anti-government separatists believed to be supported by Moscow.
The agreement to help implement a two-week-old ceasefire between the warring factions was reached Saturday at peace talks in Belarus between the governments of Russia and Ukraine, rebel leaders and representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Terms of the deal call for government and rebel forces to pull their artillery back nine miles to create a 19-mile wide buffer zone to allow for removal of heavy weapons and foreign fighters.
The deal also restricts aircraft flyovers and planting of new minefields, according to the Associated Press.
"It should offer the population a chance to feel secure," Igor Plotnitskyi, leader of rebels in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, told the AP.
More than 2,500 people from both sides of the conflict have died in the past five months as anti-government rebels, allegedly being controlled by Moscow, captured and secured swaths of largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies supporting the rebel forces.
Ukraine was one of 15 member states of the former Soviet Union from 1922 until the alliance fell apart in 1991, and it became an independent country.
Anti-government rebels in Ukraine are concentrated in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, and also have a sizable presence near Mariupol on the Black Sea coast.
The Ukrainian government controls Mariupol and the airport in Donetsk, which declared itself independent earlier in the conflict.
The insurgency was sparked by the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russia leader in February and Russia's takeover and annexation of Crimea in March.
OSCE envoy Heidi Tagliavini said her group would monitor the ceasefire, which has largely been holding, the AP said.
But the agreement was silent on perhaps the most vital unresolved issue -- who will control eastern Ukraine in the future.
Last week, Ukraine's parliament granted autonomy to rebel-controlled areas, including the right to hold elections and form a police force, the AP said.
But Donetsk rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko called on both sides to continue negotiating because of disputes over the meaning of many of the agreement's provisions, the AP said.
More about Ukraine, Russian federation, Kiev, Moscow, Fighting
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