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Russia, Ukraine Say Cease-Fire Holding, But More Steps Needed For Peace

IEV/DONETSK, Ukraine — The presidents of Russia and Ukraine said on Saturday that a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists was holding up fairly well and they discussed urgent humanitarian aid for the shattered region. Residents and combatants in eastern Ukraine welcomed the respite in a five-month conflict that has killed at least 2,600 people but said they did not expect it to last. They also each accused the enemy of using the truce to rebuild their forces.

“The two heads of state stated that overall the ceasefire was being implemented ... (and) discussed steps to achieve a permanent ceasefire,” Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko said in a statement after his telephone call with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The presidents also expressed support for the full involvement of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a rights watchdog, in monitoring the ceasefire. The Kremlin later put out a similar statement on the talks. Envoys of Ukraine, Russia, the separatist leadership and the OSCE approved the ceasefire in Minsk on Friday as part of a peace roadmap that also includes an exchange of prisoners of war and establishing a humanitarian corridor for refugees and aid.

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— Reuters