Russia, Ukraine Reach Peace Deal After 16-Hour Meeting; 'There Is a Glimmer of Hope,' German Chancellor Angela Merkel Says

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and France's President Francois Hollande (R, front) walk after taking part in peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, February 12, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine managed to broker a deal offering peace between Russia and Ukraine after intense fighting broke out between the countries.

"The main thing which has been achieved is that from Saturday into Sunday there should be declared without any conditions at all, a general ceasefire," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told journalists.

Tensions between Ukrainian and Russian forces have reached new heights, but the leaders agreed to honor and respect the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. They firmly believe that there is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful settlement. They are fully committed to undertake all possible individual and joint measures to this end."

Russian President Vladimir Putin was instrumental in getting Russian separatists to withdraw their troops from Ukraine and allow the country to retain its independence.

"We have agreed on a ceasefire from midnight 15 February," the Russian president announced. "There is also the political settlement. The first thing is constitutional reform that should take into consideration the legitimate rights of people who live in Donbass. There are also border issues. Finally, there are a whole range of economic and humanitarian issues."

The two countries were on the verge of a new war, with Ukraine's defense minister warning in September that his country had no plans to surrender territory to Russia.

"A great war has arrived at our doorstep — the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II. Unfortunately, the losses in such a war will be measured not in the hundreds but thousands and tens of thousands," Valeriy Geletey wrote in a Facebook post. "We are fighting Russia and it is Russia which is deciding what will happen in the Donbass."

But now there's a "glimmer of hope," according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who helped negotiate the peace agreement. Yet "there is very, very much work still to do," she cautioned.

Under the agreement, heavy weapons will be withdrawn starting on Feb. 17, Ukraine will take control of its border with Russia by the end of 2015, and all prisoners participating in the fighting will be granted amnesty. All foreign troops will be withdrawn from Ukraine, and illegal rebel groups will be disarmed.

Ukraininan President Petro Poroshenko (L) looks back, followed by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) after a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, February 11, 2015. The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine were due to attend a peace summit on Wednesday, but Ukraine's pro-Moscow separatists diminished the chance of a deal by launching some of the war's worst fighting in an assault on a government garrison. | (Photo: Reuters/Grigory Dukor)

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