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February 13, 2015

Ukraine and Russia announce cease-fire


*Editor’s Note: This post does not reflect the latest information on the conflict in Ukraine. You can find more at PBS NewsHour’s website.

Ukraine and Russia announced that they had reached a cease-fire after weeks of clashes between Ukrainian and pro-Russian rebel forces.

Leaders from France and Germany participated in talks aimed to stop fighting that has killed thousands and displaced more than 100,000 children according to the United Nations.

Ukraine and Russia had previously agreed to a cease-fire in Sept., but it fell apart in recent weeks.

The violence began last year when protesters across southern and eastern Ukraine demonstrated in support of joining Russia. The tension came to a head in March when Russia annexed Crimea, a territory that both countries claim. Military clashes erupted in Donbass, an area in eastern Ukraine that borders Russia.

NATO and Ukraine accuse Russia of giving weapons to the separatist forces, and U.S. officials are considering military assistance to Ukraine amid concerns that this would escalate the violence.

The threat of U.S. military assistance may have pushed forward the cease-fire agreement, according to Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

However, the deal left “a lot of ambiguity” about Ukraine’s future and did not force Russia to make any meaningful concessions, McFaul said.

The cease-fire is only one step toward a lasting peaceful agreement, said Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the U.S. and Europe at the Brookings Institution. “It’s not the final resolution of this conflict, by any means,” she said.

Warm up questions
  1. What is the definition of a “nation”?
  2. How does a region on the border of two countries decide which country it identifies with?
  3. Where is Ukraine? Where is it located in comparison to Russia?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why would a group of people want to secede from their country? Why would some Ukrainians want to separate and join Russia?
  2. Why did Russia arm Ukrainian separatists? What does it have to gain by the military clashes?
  3. How might the prospect of U.S. weapons entering Ukraine impact discussions between Ukraine and Russia?
  4. How long do you think the cease-fire will last? What would it take to create a lasting cease-fire?
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