Ukraine, rebels agree 'preliminary' ceasefire deal: Poroshenko

(From left to right) Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, representatives of self proclamed 'People Republic of Donetsk,' PM Alexander Zakharchenko (L), Donetsk rebel leader Andrei Purgin (2nd L) and 'People Republic of Lugansk' Igor Plotnitsky (2nd R) attend talks in Minsk on Sept. 5. AFP Photo

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Sept. 5 his envoy had signed a "preliminary" truce deal with pro-Russian rebels aimed at halting five months of fighting that has claimed 2,600 lives.

"A preliminary protocol to the ceasefire agreement has been signed in Minsk. This protocol should enter into force on Friday," Poroshenko wrote on his official Twitter account. He also ordered Ukjrainian forces to halt fire by 15:00 GMT.

Shortly earlier, Ukraine's Russian-backed separatists had also announced they had agreed with Ukrainian officials on a ceasefire starting Sept. 5.

"Representatives of Ukraine and Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic signed a ceasefire protocol from 6 pm on Friday," the Twitter account of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic said, without providing further details.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Sept. 5 that Russia must withdraw its forces from the war-torn country for a proposed truce with rebel insurgents to hold.

"The peace plan must include a ceasefire, the withdrawal of the Russian army, bandits and terrorists, and the re-establishment of the border," Yatsenyuk told a cabinet meeting shortly after talks on the ceasefire plan opened in the Belarussian capital Minsk.

He also called for the United States and Europe to act as guarantors to a ceasefire with pro-Moscow rebels.  "It must be supported by the United States and the EU. We will not manage with Russia on our own... we need guarantees," he said.

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