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Fighting Subsides In East Ukraine For New School Year

A Ukrainian serviceman on patrol in the Donetsk region (file photo)
A Ukrainian serviceman on patrol in the Donetsk region (file photo)

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.

Based on reporting by Bloomberg, AFP, and Interfax