Moscow, August 2 – Russia and Ukraine agreed on a military time-line for the next four years on Tuesday, as Russia and its allies look to improve their ties and ease tensions on the Ukrainian border.
The accord, which is likely to become a landmark document in the relationship between the two countries, was made by senior officials in both sides.
The move will see Russian forces return to their former bases in the Crimea region and return to the battlefield.
The deal also sets the stage for the return of the heavily armed Black Sea Fleet, which has been based in Sevastopol since 2014.
Russia and the US have been engaged in a protracted, but sometimes deadly, conflict since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
But relations between Moscow and Washington have improved in recent years, and the latest agreement marks a step towards deepening the relationship.
The agreement was signed at a ceremony in the Kremlin by the Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov and his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin, a joint statement said.
It said the two sides agreed to work towards strengthening cooperation in the field of defence.
“We are convinced that we can overcome the current difficulties, and we look forward to deepening the bilateral cooperation in this field,” it said.
The two sides will meet regularly in the coming months to discuss the issue, the statement said, adding that the two leaders will meet for another round of discussions in the autumn.
‘Peace is our goal’ The agreement comes as both sides prepare to sign a treaty to implement the agreement.
It calls for the immediate return of Crimea’s Black Sea fleet and the creation of an independent Crimea.
The treaty, signed on Friday, calls for Russia to return its military personnel and equipment and withdraw from Ukraine’s eastern border with the Russian-occupied region.
It also commits the two to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, a condition that the Kremlin and Kiev have repeatedly said is not being met.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he and President Petro Poroshenko would hold talks on the agreement, which was signed by Antonov, Klimkins and two ministers from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
The agreement is seen as a major step towards ending the conflict in Ukraine and securing the peace.
It is also seen as another step towards normalising relations between Russia and Europe, which have been badly damaged by Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula and support for separatist groups in eastern regions of the country.
It has been widely criticised by many Ukrainians, including President Petro Pecherskiy.
“It’s the first time the peace in Ukraine is achieved,” he said on Monday, speaking at a press conference.
“Peace is not our goal.
We need to achieve peace.”