The Minsk peace agreement, brokered by France and Germany, was signed by Russia and Ukraine in February 2015 but a recent uptick in fighting has led to fresh efforts to de-escalate the violence.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

After talks with his Ukrainian, German and French counterparts in Munich on Saturday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, "On February 20, the ceasefire [in eastern Ukraine] and withdrawal of heavy military hardware will start."

The ceasefire is expected to follow the terms of the 2015 Minsk agreement. Fighting has recently intensified in the conflict between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, refocusing global attention on a heated conflict that has strained relations between Russia and the West.

The same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities to temporarily recognise civil registration documents issued in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine as entry documents. The decision will enable people from the conflict-hit region to travel, work or study in Russia.

According to Putin's order, published on the Kremlin website, Russia will temporarily recognise identity documents, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates and vehicle registration plates issued in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Ukrainian authorities sharply criticised Putin's decision, saying Russia had violated the Minsk peace process.

"For me, this is another proof of Russian occupation as well as Russian violation of international law," Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko told reporters in Munich, Germany.

TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood brings us the latest from Munich.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies