Russian-backed separatists cover their ears as they fire a mortar towards Ukrainian troops outside the village of Sanzharivka, northeast of Debaltseve, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Maximilian Clarke)
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Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed a deal Thursday that offers a "glimmer of hope" for an end to fighting in eastern Ukraine after marathon overnight talks.But all four leaders said there was a long way to go and accusations from Kiev of a new, mass influx of Russian armor into rebel-held eastern Ukraine further undermined the prospects for peace. The deal envisages a cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists starting Sunday, followed by the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line and constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy. More than 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has now surged, with more than 70 Ukrainian servicemen and at least 24 civilians killed so far this month, according to Reuters calculations based on official Ukrainian figures.A Ukrainian military spokesman said around 50 tanks, 40 missile systems and 40 armoured vehicles had crossed overnight into eastern Ukraine from Russia. The fighting has destabilized Ukraine both militarily and economically. As the deal was reached, Ukraine was offered a $40-billion lifeline by the International Monetary Fund to stave off financial collapse.
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