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Eastern Ukraine Ceasefire Starts Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Says

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Saturday that a ceasefire will go into effect for Eastern Ukraine on Monday.

His comments followed a meeting with the foreign ministers for Ukraine, Germany and France in Munich, according to Russian state television.

Eastern Ukraine has seen a spike in violence in recent months between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian armed forces as efforts to enforce previous ceasefires in the three-year-old conflict have failed.

Lavrov called it positive that the foreign ministers “agreed once again for the state of a ceasefire on February 20.”

He said the agreement also concerns “the start of the withdrawal of heavy arms” in eastern Ukraine, a key element in the Minsk agreement, which was negotiated two years ago but never fully implemented.

It also called for the withdrawal of foreign troops, local elections and full control of the border by Ukraine.

It’s probably too soon for people to be optimistic about the latest ceasefire agreement, according to CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson, but “what you have here are the ingredients to reinvigorate the Minsk agreement,” he said.

Earlier this month, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, made it clear that any lifting of Russian sanctions would be tied to a withdrawal from Crimea.

European leaders won’t lift sanctions until full implementation of the Minsk agreement.

“What we seem to be seeing here is Sergei Lavrov perhaps taking a step further to make that happen,” Robertson said.

Also Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an executive order recognizing official documents of Ukrainians living in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, according to a Kremlin statement.

It allows “Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions can enter and leave the Russian Federation without applying for visas,” according to the statement.