An agreement aimed at ending the fighting in Ukraine has been reached, following marathon talks in Belarus.

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France announced that a ceasefire would begin on 15 February.

The deal also includes weapon withdrawals and prisoner exchanges, but key issues remain to be settled.

The pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have signed the agreement. Thousands of people died in almost a year of fighting in the region.

The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Minsk says the deal is very similar to a ceasefire agreed last September, which unravelled very quickly.

The latest agreement includes:

Ceasefire to begin at 0001 local time on 15 February

Heavy weapons to be pulled out from conflict zones, beginning on 17 February and completed in two weeks

All prisoners to be released; amnesty for those involved in fighting

Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, weapons and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory. Disarmament of all illegal groups

Ukraine to allow resumption of normal life in rebel areas, by lifting restrictions

Constitutional reform to enable decentralisation for rebel regions by the end of 2015

Ukraine to control border with Russia if conditions met by the end of 2015

French President Francois Hollande said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would ask their European Union partners to support the deal at a summit later on Thursday.

Ms Merkel said there was now a “glimmer of hope” but big hurdles remained.

via BBC News – Ukraine crisis: Leaders agree peace roadmap.