Ukrainian and Russian leaders have agreed a ceasefire in the eastern European state after almost 16 hours of tense negotiations in Belarus.
The leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia announced that a ceasefire would begin on 15 February, with French president Francois Holland telling reporters the agreement would bring “relief to Europe”.
But questions remained over whether Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels have agreed on all of the terms.
- Ceasefire implemented on 15 February
- Heavy weaponry withdrawn
- Prisoners released
- Rebel autonomy in eastern regions
- Status of Debaltseve
- International borders returned to Ukraine within the year
Russian president Vladimir Putin announced the ceasefire would begin on 15 February, as well as claiming he had ensured provisions on border controls, humanitarian issues - and special status for the rebel regions.
His claims on the rebel-held territory were rebutted by Ukrainian leader Petro Petroshenko who denied there was any agreement on autonomy in the eastern part of the country.
Speaking to a Russian TV station afterwards, Mr Putin admitted: "It wasn't the best night for me, but it's a good morning."
Another disagreement was over Debaltseve, north-east of Donetsk, which is a key railway junction for rebel forces.
The town has been a flashpoint of the fighting in the past few weeks, with pro-Russian rebel forces claiming the town’s Ukrainian defenders are surrounded and are expected to surrender. Kiev disputes this.
Ukraine crisis: A timeline of the conflict
Ukraine crisis: A timeline of the conflict
1/22 30 November 2013
Public support grows for the “Euromaidan” anti-government protesters in Kiev demonstrating against Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the EU Association Agreement as images of them injured by police crackdown spread.
2/22 20 February 2014
Kiev sees its worst day of violence for almost 70 years as at least 88 people are killed in 48 hours, with uniformed snipers shooting at protesters from rooftops.
3/22 22 February 2014
Yanukovych flees the country after protest leaders and politicians agree to form a new government and hold elections. The imprisoned former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is freed from prison and protesters take control of Presidential administration buildings, including Mr Yanukovych's residence.
Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Imageses
4/22 27 February 2014
Pro-Russian militias seize government buildings in Crimea and the new Ukrainian government vows to prevent the country breaking up as the Crimean Parliament sets a referendum on secession from Ukraine in May.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
5/22 16 March 2014
Crimea votes overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in a ballot condemned by the US and Europe as illegal. Russian troops had moved into the peninsula weeks before after pro-Russian separatists occupied buildings.
6/22 6 April 2014
Pro-Russian rebels seize government buildings in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, calling for a referendum on independence and claiming independent republic. Ukraine authorities regain control of Kharkiv buildings on 8 April after launching an “anti-terror operation” but the rest remain out of their control.
7/22 7 June 2014
Petro Poroshenko is sworn in as Ukraine's president, calling on separatists to lay down their arms and end the fighting and later orders the creation of humanitarian corridors, since violated, to allow civilians to flee war zones.
8/22 27 June 2014
The EU signs an association agreement with Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova, eight months after protests over the abandonment of the deal sparked the crisis.
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
9/22 17 July 2014
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Ukrainian intelligence officials claim it was hit by rebels using a Buk surface-to-air launcher in an apparent accident.
10/22 22 August 2014
A Russian aid convoy of more than 100 lorries enters eastern Ukraine and makes drop in rebel-controlled Luhansk without Government permission, sparking allegations of a “direct violation of international law”.
11/22 29 August 2014
Nato releases satellite images appearing to show Russian soldiers, artillery and armoured vehicles engaged in military operations in eastern Ukraine.
12/22 8 September 2014
Russia warns that it could block flights through its airspace if the EU goes ahead with new sanctions over the ongoing crisis and conflict
13/22 17 September 2014
Despite the cease-fire and a law passed by the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday granting greater autonomy to rebel-held parts of the east, civilian casualties continued to rise, adding to the estimated 3,000 people killed
14/22 16 November 2014
The fragile ceasefire gives way to an increased wave of military activity as artillery fire continues to rock the eastern Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel bastion of Donetsk
15/22 26 December 2014
A new round of ceasefire talks, scheduled on neutral ground in the Belariusian capital Minsk, are called off
16/22 12 January 2015
Soldiers in Debaltseve were forced to prepare heavy defences around the city; despite a brief respite to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, hostilities in Donetsk resumed at a level not seen since September 2014
17/22 21 January 2015
13 people are killed during shelling of bus in the rebel-held city of Donetsk
18/22 24 January 2015
Ten people were killed after pro-Russian separatists bombarded the east Ukrainian port city of Mariupol
19/22 2 February 2015
There was a dangerous shift in tempo as rebels bolstered troop numbers against government forces
20/22 11 February 2015
European leaders meet in Minsk and agree on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine beginning on February 14. From left to right: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
MAXIM MALINOVSKY | AFP | Getty Images
21/22 13 February 2015
Pro-Russian rebels in the city of Gorlivka, in the Donetsk region, fire missiles at Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve. Fighting continued in Debaltseve for a number of days after the Minsk ceasefire began.
ANDREY BORODULIN | AFP | Getty Images
22/22 18 February 2015
Ukrainian soldiers repair the bullet-shattered windshield of their truck as their withdraw from the strategic town of Debaltseve. Following intense shelling from pro-Russian rebels, Ukrainian forces began to leave the town in the early hours of February 18.
Brendan Hoffman | Getty Images
"We were presented with various unacceptable conditions of withdrawal and surrender," Mr Poroshenko told reporters after the talks. "We did not agree to any ultimatums and stated firmly that the cease-fire that is announced is unconditional."
However, the two leaders did manage to hammer out an agreement to withdraw heavy weaponry by 31-43 miles in the next two weeks.
This should bring relief to civilians desperately attempting to survive in the conflict-torn regions.
Last week United Nations figures placed the number of civilian casualties between 31 January and 5 February above 200. More than 5,400 people have been killed since the conflict erupted last year.
The BBC also reported that all prisoners are expected to be released. Mr Poroshenko claimed that Ukraine would re-establish control of international borders by the end of the year. His remarks were echoed by President Hollande, although it remains unclear how such control would be effected in rebel-held areas.
Hope for the ceasefire remains fragile, although Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said the agreement offered “a glimmer of hope”.
A previous September agreement fell apart after both sides attempted to gain more territory.
The news comes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agrees an £11.5billion loan to Ukraine. It is hoped that the Extended Fund Facility will stablise Ukraine’s economy, restore growth and improve living conditions.
Additional reporting from Reuters and Associated PressReuse content