An indefinite ceasefire between the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation (JFO) and pro-Russian separatist forces is slated to begin in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (Donbas region) on Saturday, December 29. Despite the agreement, clashes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatist fighters remain possible in the coming weeks.
The New Year's ceasefire was signed during a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk on December 19. Clashes between Ukrainian state forces and the separatists have been taking place on a regular basis despite a number of ceasefire agreements made since 2014. According to the UN, more than 10,300 people have died since the eastern Ukraine conflict erupted in April 2014, soon after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. The fighting has displaced more than 1.6 million people. The rebels remain in control of a large swath of territory in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, which are mainly Russian-speaking regions.
Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to Donetsk and Luhansk provinces - in particular, the cities of Mariupol, Donetsk, Makiyivka, Horlivka, Debaltseve, and Luhansk, as well as areas along the Russian border. The Ukrainian government has stated that foreigners entering Ukraine from Russia through rebel-controlled territory will not be allowed through any checkpoints into government-controlled territory.
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