After marathon talks, a chance at peace in eastern Ukraine

After 16-hour talks that stretched into the night, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine emerged with a deal to bring peace to eastern Ukraine. The ceasefire is scheduled to start at midnight Saturday.

“It consisted of a long night and a long morning, but we arrived at an accord on the ceasefire and the global end to the conflict,” French President Francois Hollande said at a news conference in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

“We have no illusions,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “A great, great deal of work still needs to be done. But there is a real chance to turn things around toward the better.”

Russia and Ukraine agreed to withdraw heavy weaponry to create a 30-mile buffer zone within two weeks, and to move back Ukrainian and separatist troops.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will assist with monitoring and verification.

The compact also includes a dialogue on the future of contested Donetsk and Luhansk, in keeping with Ukraine’s law on temporary self-rule, and amnesty for people involved in the fighting.

The deal includes the release of all hostages and those illegally detained, along with the safe access of humanitarian aid.

Terms of the agreement also include restoring full control of the Ukrainian border to the Ukrainian government, the withdrawal of all foreign arms and mercenaries from Ukraine, and a new constitution by the end of 2015 that takes into account decentralization of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

A statement from the White House welcomed the deal, calling it a “potentially significant step toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict” as long as the terms were met.