*A ceasefire for east Ukraine has been agreed during talks in Minsk between Ukrainian government representatives and separatist leaders, according to news reports from the Belarusian capital.
The agreement came shortly after loud booms of artillery were audible in the city of Mariupol, which Kiev’s forces are defending against a possible rebel onslaught. Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma began talks at a hotel in Minsk on Friday with leaders from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “republics”, in the presence of officials from Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Interfax has reported that the ceasefire is due to come into effect at 6pm local time (1600 GMT). The official Twitter account of the Donetsk rebels said: “Representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, and Ukraine have signed a ceasefire protocol.”
Poroshenko had reportedly told the BBC on Friday he was “absolutely not confident” that any ceasefire would hold, but said he and Ukrainian forces were doing everything possible to achieve peace.*