Violence has abated in Ukraine's east as the warring sides made a fresh attempt at a cease-fire in a separatist conflict that has killed more than 9,500 people since April 2014.
Speaking at a meeting of ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Potsdam, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on September 1 that the latest truce deal had sharply reduced military activities.
Steinmeier, who holds the rotating OSCE chair, said the reduction was a hopeful sign after months of increasing fighting along the lines of contact between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.
The trilateral contact group on Ukraine, which comprises representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE, struck a deal last week for a cease-fire to coincide with the new school year.
A similar 2015 cease-fire held for less than a week.
In a joint statement, France's President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the latest truce "must be the start of a lasting cease-fire."
"Germany and France are extremely concerned about the security situation in eastern Ukraine, especially along the line of contact" between separatists and government forces, they also said.