Ukrainian government forces came under artillery fire late on Saturday near the strategic port of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, in the first serious violation of a ceasefire declared only about 30 hours earlier.
The presidents of Russia and Ukraine had earlier said the ceasefire, part of a peace road-map intended to end five months of conflict, was largely holding across eastern Ukraine, where Kiev’s forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists.
The area had previously been quiet since the ceasefire took effect on Friday evening, but many residents and combatants in Mariupol and in Donetsk, the other main flashpoint in the conflict, have expressed doubts that the ceasefire can last.
In his statement, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said he and Russia’s Vladimir Putin had agreed in a telephone call that “overall the ceasefire was being implemented” and that they needed to find ways to make it more durable.
Envoys of Ukraine, Russia, the separatist leadership and Europe’s OSCE security watchdog approved the ceasefire in Minsk on Friday as part of a peace roadmap that also includes an exchange of prisoners of war and establishing a humanitarian corridor for refugees and aid.