An end to fighting in eastern Ukraine could be near after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko agreed on a “ceasefire regime” on Wednesday.
The leaders spoke by telephone and “exchanged views on what needs to be done on a priority basis for a speedy end to the bloodshed” in south-east Ukraine, a translation of a brief statement from Putin’s office read.
The statement claimed that the points of view of both presidents “on the possible ways out of the crisis are largely the same”.
An initial statement from Poroshenko’s office had said that the pair agreed a “permanent ceasefire”. However, this statement was later amended to say, in translation: “The conversation resulted in an agreement on ceasefire regime in the Donbas (region).
“The parties reached mutual understanding on the steps that will facilitate the establishment of peace.”
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, clarified for Russian news agency Ria-Novosti: "Putin and Poroshenko did not agree a ceasefire in Ukraine because Russia is not party to the conflict, they only discussed how to settle the conflict."
It remains to be seen how either party will implement such an agreement on a ceasefire regime, with Russia insisting it has no official role in the conflict – something Ukraine and the West disputes.
Russia has come under increasing pressure from the US and European Union over the annexation earlier this year of Crimea from Ukraine and continued instability in eastern Ukraine. A whole host of Russian companies, individuals and interests have been sanctioned in an effort to cut off access to capital.