Ukraine Gets a Ceasefire
Both sides agree to stop fighting this morning
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2014 8:59 AM CDT
Soldiers of special battalion "Azov" talk at a checkpoint in the port city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine, Sept. 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

(Newser) – It looks like the fighting will stop in Ukraine today, at least for a while. The government signed a ceasefire deal with pro-Russia rebels at talks in Minsk, reports the BBC. The deal was struck after Vladimir Putin, perhaps hoping to avoid new penalties from an ongoing NATO summit, floated a peace plan amid skepticism—and without admitting that Moscow is providing support to the rebels. The ceasefire was to go into effect at 11am EDT today, and fighting seemed on track to continue right up until that hour.

Reuters reports that the rebels were trying to capture the key port city of Mariupol. If they were able to take the city before the ceasefire went into effect, the AP explains why that would be a huge deal: It "would give the rebels a strong foothold on the Sea of Azov and raise the threat that they carve out a land corridor between Russia and Crimea. If that happens, Ukraine would lose another huge chunk of its coast and access to the rich hydrocarbon resources the Sea of Azov is believed to hold."
 

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