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Ukraine Truce Holds Overnight Amid Doubts It Will Last

The deal, which came after five months of fighting, requires all sides to withdraw their heavy weapons and release prisoners of war.

Ukraine Truce Holds Overnight Amid Doubts It Will Last
The New York Times / Mauricio Lima

A fragile cease-fire appears to be holding in Eastern Ukraine — at least for now.

The deal, which came after five long months of fighting, was signed Friday between the Ukrainian government and the separatists. All parties have agreed to withdraw their heavy weaponry from the battlefields, release prisoners of war and allow the flow of humanitarian aid. (Video via BloombergEuronews

The attitude surrounding the agreement could perhaps best be described as “cautiously optimistic.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Obviously we are hopeful, but based on past experience, also skeptical that, in fact, the separatists will follow through and the Russians will stop violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” (Video via The White House)

Previous peace plans, after all, haven’t lasted long.

And, consider the fact that the rebels — despite signing the agreement — say they won't back down from their long-term goal of breaking off from Ukraine. (Video via Ukraine Today

The Interpreter summed up the skepticism this way. “At the end of the day this may be the first real ceasefire of the war, but with so many issues unresolved it is perhaps likely that this is only a small pause in the conflict.”

A conflict which Russian officials say they have nothing to do with. Ukraine and its Western allies, on the other hand, accuse Moscow of stoking the unrest and arming the separatists. (Video via BBC

NATO leaders on Friday agreed to set up a so-called rapid-reaction force to boost the alliance's presence in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, the European Union and the U.S. are preparing to levy another round of sanctions against Russia.

Russia has threatened a response to any new measures. In August, sanctions were met with a year-long Russian-imposed ban on meat, dairy and other imports from the EU and U.S.