Here is a look at what the Ukraine agreement does and does not resolve.
MOSCOW — The 13-point agreement to end the war in eastern Ukraine reached after 16 hours of negotiations in Minsk, Belarus, is no less precarious than previous cease-fire deals.
The participation of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who might be the one person who can put an end to the fighting, has bolstered hopes that the agreement may hold. President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine must swallow a bitter pill: The pact will force him to make concessions that will cement recent gains made by the pro-Russia separatist forces in southeastern Ukraine.
Here is a look at what the agreement, “Minsk II,” does and does not resolve.
Q. Can the cease-fire hold?
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A. A cease-fire negotiated in September in Minsk failed. But the participation of Putin, Poroshenko and the leaders of Germany and France increase the likelihood that this agreement might hold.
Under Thursday’s deal, both sides must stop firing on each other at midnight Saturday. That leaves 48 hours during which both sides may try to claim additional territory. The fiercest fighting will probably continue near Debaltseve, an important rail junction held by Ukrainian forces that the separatists claim to have surrounded.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is to monitor the cease-fire, but it cannot enforce it.
Q. Where will the new dividing lines be?
A. The situation on the ground favors the separatists.
Ukrainian officials have said the rebels gained control over almost 200 square miles of additional territory since the September cease-fire. Under the new agreement, both sides are required to withdraw heavy artillery to create a 30-mile demilitarized buffer zone.
But the agreement does not explicitly demarcate the line. Ukraine is required to withdraw from the “current front lines,” which may change by Saturday. Separatist forces are supposed to withdraw behind the September line.
Q. What about Ukraine’s border with Russia?
A. Under the new agreement, Ukraine will regain control of its border with Russia by the end of 2015 if the government makes political concessions, including the adoption of constitutional amendments to decentralize power.
Poroshenko must sell those changes to a wartime Parliament in Kiev that might see this agreement as a capitulation and scuttle the deal.
Q. What about the humanitarian situation?
A. The government in Kiev agreed to resume paying pensions and other social benefits to residents of southeastern Ukraine, a significant victory for Moscow, which has accused Poroshenko of levying an “economic blockade.”
The return of social benefits will aid residents in combat zones and bolster the standing of the rebel governments while further depleting Ukraine’s budget.
Q. What about Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union?
A. Moscow has demanded assurances that Kiev will not join the European Union or NATO. Thursday’s agreement did not allow for rebels to have their own foreign policy, but the political concessions the Ukrainian government must make give the separatists — and Moscow — leverage. Plus, further integration with Europe may be difficult under current political and economic conditions in Ukraine.
Q. What about Crimea?
A. Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine last March, was not addressed in the agreement.
Q. Are there other conditions?
A. Kiev promised to grant amnesty to fighters in the southeast. Illegal militias (both pro-Ukrainian and separatist forces) are to disband, and foreign mercenaries are to leave the country.
All prisoners of war are to be exchanged. Poroshenko has called for the release of Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot, but she is being held in Moscow on criminal charges.
Q. Who is going to enforce this?
A. The OSCE is to monitor the cease-fire and new local elections to be held in rebel territory before the end of the year. France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine are also required to form working groups that will meet regularly to monitor the agreement. Ultimately there are no provisions for enforcement; the agreement will hold only if both sides stand by it.