05:39 GMT +314 November 2018
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    A photographer takes a picture of an armed man in military fatigues standing guard outside the security service (SBU) regional building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 23, 2014

    Fragile 'Harvest Truce' Comes Into Being in East Ukraine

    © AFP 2018 / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
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    A shaky ceasefire timed to the summer harvest has come into force in eastern Ukraine despite the country’s Defense Ministry saying no final deal was reached.

    DONETSK (Sputnik) — OSCE envoy to Ukraine Martin Sajdik said fighting will end along the entire line that divides government troops and rival militia forces starting at midnight on Saturday until the end of August.

    Less than an hour after the arrangement entered into force, authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic told Sputnik that Ukrainian forces had fired grenade launchers in the direction of its capital, Donetsk.

    "Since midnight, we’ve detected automatic grenade launcher attacks in the direction of Donetsk. No artillery fire has been registered starting at 00:00 [21:00GMT]. We detected artillery fire by Ukrainian forces before midnight," a spokesperson at the DPR Defense Ministry said.

    The spokesperson said Ukrainian troops last fired 120-mm mortars at Donetsk city suburbs at 11:20 p.m. local time (20:20GMT). The spokesman for the Luhansk People’s Militia, Andriy Marochko, told Sputnik the truce was holding.

    This is the fourth attempt this year at forcing the warring parties to lay down their arms and allow a peaceful life to resume in the Donbas region, torn by more than three years of fighting.

    The pause in hostilities was brokered earlier this week by a trilateral contact group, composed of Russian, Ukrainian and OSCE mediators.

    Officials in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions vowed to honor the pact. Ukraine's Defense Ministry spokesman Andriy Lysenko argued on Friday that no final deal had been made but added they would go along with the plan.

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