Kiev: Ukraine said today that it had reached a "New Year" truce agreement with pro-Russian insurgents that could finally end periodic deadly clashes in the war-scarred ex-Soviet state.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Poroshenko's peace negotiator said the new deal had been agreed in the Belarussian capital Minsk and would go into effect at
"We have an agreement about a complete and unconditional ceasefire that will begin at 00.00 hours on the night of December 22-23," Darka Olifer wrote on her Facebook page.
"This initiative is especially needed so that civilians who live in (the separatist east) can meet Christmas and the New Year holidays in peace."
There was no initial confirmation of the agreement from the separatist negotiators in Minsk. The two sides had reached a September 1 truce agreement
that significantly calmed deadly exchanges of artillery and missile fire along a 30-kilometre-wide (19-mile-wide) buffer zone separating rebel-run territory from the rest of Ukraine.
But a new upsurge in violence that began last week has put the September truce under threat. The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people
-- most of them civilians -- have died since the rebel revolt began in March 2014.