Ceasefire at Ukraine airport after deadly clash: Kiev

 Ukraine`s military said Monday that its forces and Russian representatives had agreed a temporary ceasefire around the airport in rebel-held Donetsk that has been the focus of fighting for months.  

AFP| Updated: Dec 02, 2014, 00:59 AM IST

Kiev: Ukraine`s military said Monday that its forces and Russian representatives had agreed a temporary ceasefire around the airport in rebel-held Donetsk that has been the focus of fighting for months.

The press office of Ukraine`s "anti-terrorist operation" in the largely Russian speaking east said an agreement to suspend military operations was reached after 24 hours of fighting that killed at least three government soldiers.

"We have just learned that as a result of negotiations between the heads of the joint Russian-Ukrainian centre near the Donetsk airport, the fire has come to a halt," the Ukrainian military statement said.

It was not immediately clear how long the ceasefire was meant to last and there was no immediate reaction to the Ukrainian statement from rebel leaders.

Russian military envoys and their Ukrainian counterparts have held periodic meetings since late August in a bid to agree on conditions that could calm some of the bloodiest battles and demarcate territory between the two sides` forces.

Ukraine agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire with the rebels on September 5 that never held but was meant to establish a 30-kilometre (18-mile) buffer zone between the fighters and granted limited self-rule to the separatists.

But hostilities only intensified after the two separatist regions -- the self-proclaimed People`s Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk -- held their own leadership polls on November 2 that were denounced by both Kiev and the West.

Pro-Russian militias have been attacking the Donetsk hub -- once eastern Ukraine`s most modern and busiest -- since May in order to prevent Kiev from using it to funnel soldiers and supplies into the war zone.

The structure and its landing strip have been devastated by constant shelling and no planes will be able to land there until a ground-up overhaul is completed or a new facility is built.

But the pro-Russian soldiers are still attacking the building -- and government forces are keeping up defences at a great cost of life -- without either side making any advances.

Ukrainian army spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Monday that clashes around the building involving heavy mortar fire and shelling have been particularly intense in the past three days.

Battles between government forces and pro-Russian rebels have killed more than 4,300 people and displaced 930,000 since mid-April.