After days of renewed fighting between Russia and Ukraine, a peace deal has – yet again – been reached.
Following marathon peace talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France announced that a ceasefire would come into effect on Feb. It also involves the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line.
While the much-needed truce is indeed a positive development after almost a month of hostilities between the two countries, the bitterness of conflict persists.
The peace deal comes almost two days after an MP from the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s party proposed to criminalize public denial of Russian aggression – a move Russia Today referred to as an attack on “civil freedoms by Ukraine’s post-coup government.”
“The controversial bill amends the Ukrainian criminal code to make ‘public denial or justification of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine in 2014-2015’ a felony. The ‘crime’ would carry a penalty ranging from a heavy fine and up to a five-year jail term for repeat offenses or convicts who held public office,” RT reported.
Around five months after a ceasefire was announced between Ukraine and Russia, tensions between the two countries escalated again after Russian separatists went all out against the Ukrainian government last month.
Around 5,400 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in eastern Ukraine since the conflict broke out between government troops and rebel forces last year, according to the United Nations.
Ever since the removal of Moscow’s ally, Viktor Yanukovych, from the Ukrainian parliament in February last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin president has been accused of destabilizing the current Ukrainian government – which is seen as strongly anti-Russian.
The situation took a turn for the worse when the Crimean peninsula – a pro-Moscow Ukrainian region – was occupied by Russia in March.
Later, when reports of Russian troops illegally entering Ukraine started to emerge, the government in Kiev vowed to fight back, ignoring the fact that it may not be able to counter Putin’s forces.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko even announced in November that his country is ready for “total war” with Russia.
Although a peace deal has been announced again, Germany’s foreign minister cautioned that it is neither a "comprehensive solution" nor a "breakthrough.”
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