Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels they have been fighting for five months in the east have agreed to a truce deal.

The ceasefire came into effect by 15:00 GMT and appears to be holding.

The pro-Russian rebels have said that they remain committed to splitting from Ukraine, but the ceasefire offers the opportunity to attempt to find a political and peaceful solution.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko commented:

“It is very important that this ceasefire lasts long and that during this ceasefire we continue political dialogue to find peace and stability”

Meanwhile, EU member states have expanded list of Russian and pro-Russian individuals that are subject to sanctions in an attempt to change Moscow’s policy of arming and supplying the rebels. The measures are intended to come into effect on Monday, but EU leaders said that they could be suspended if Russia withdraws its forces from Ukrainian territories.

Elsewhere, Nato announced the formation of a multi-national “spearhead” force capable of deploying within 48 hours, in order to allay fears of Russian expansion in eastern Europe.

However, Russia’s foreign ministry claimed that the formation of such a force and demonstration of Nato military strength by agreeing to hold joint exercises with Kiev before the end of the year risks “wrecking the progress made in the peace process in Ukraine”.

More than 2,600 people have died and 140,000 have fled the conflict zone since fighting broke out between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea in March.



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