Plea for full ceasefire in Ukraine before truce

29 Dec 2018

The leaders of France and Germany on Friday reiterated their call for a "solid, full and permanent ceasefire" in Ukraine's conflict-torn east ahead of a planned cessation of hostilities.
Their remarks came a day after representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) announced that a fresh ceasefire would start Saturday morning. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions in April 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The 2015 Minsk summit laid out a ceasefire and international monitoring in eastern Ukraine, but a pro-Russian insurgency has persisted.
In a joint statement, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the latest ceasefire announcement. "The approach of the New Year's and Orthodox Christmas holidays must serve as an opportunity for the stakeholders in the conflict in eastern Ukraine to focus on the needs of civilians, who have suffered all too long as a result of this conflict and its consequences,"the leaders said". 
In a separate statement, Merkel's office said the chancellor had also discussed the Ukrainian issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call Friday and urged the release of the sailors.