A decision by pro-Russian separatists to postpone local elections that Ukraine had said were illegitimate was welcomed on Tuesday by Kiev, the European Union, Washington and Moscow – the rebels’ patron – as a sign of progress in the faltering peace process. The separatists said the elections, which they had set for Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 in two regions they control, would take place next February, potentially giving time for a compromise that would suit all sides. The concession by the separatists comes at a time when Russia has adopted a more constructive tone in talks over Ukraine, according to diplomats involved in the discussion who say Russia has influence over the rebels.
Together with a pull-back of light weapons by both sides and signs the ceasefire is holding, the rebels’ decision appeared to raise cautious optimism that genuine efforts were being made to give the troubled Minsk peace deal a chance.
“Moscow has actually delivered,” a German government source said.
Under the terms of a peace agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus, in February, Kiev-organised local elections were meant to be held on Oct. 25 in the two regions, along with the rest of the country.