The latest on the Ukraine-Russia border crisis

By Tara John, Adrienne Vogt and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 3:41 a.m. ET, February 19, 2022
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4:38 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Ukraine says violations of ceasefire in east continue

From Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The Ukrainian military said Friday that in the first nine hours of the day 20 violations of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine were recorded "15 of which by using weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements."

"The enemy used 122 mm artillery systems, 120 mm and 82 mm mortars, grenade launchers of various systems, infantry fighting vehicles, and large-caliber machine guns," the Joint Forces office reported.

It said there are no casualties among the Ukrainian military.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry recorded 60 ceasefire violations Thursday, the highest since May 2018.

The Russian-backed separatist regions have accused Ukrainian forces of shelling residential areas under their control.

Under the Minsk agreements, both sides must withdraw heavy weapons from the front lines.

Some context: This comes after Monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported a sharp escalation in ceasefire violations along the frontlines dividing Ukrainian and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. 

The OSCE said as a result of "allegations of civilian casualties and damage to civilian properties and infrastructure sites over the past 24 hours, the Mission rerouted a number of its patrols in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including to a kindergarten and a railway station in Stanitsya Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk)." 

The kindergarten was hit by artillery fire early Thursday. Two people suffered minor injuries, according to Ukrainian authorities.  

Both sides in the conflict accused the other of ceasefire violations Thursday. 

The war in eastern Ukraine started in 2014 and has claimed the lives of over 14,000 people. Intense fighting in 2014 and 2015 left portions of eastern Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts in the hands of Russian-backed separatists. 

4:32 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Here's what the Minsk Agreement is and what it could mean for the Russia-Ukraine crisis

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

As world leaders scramble to find a diplomatic solution over the ongoing Russia-Ukraine tensions, talk has turned to the 2015 Minsk Agreement as a possible way out of the crisis.

The agreement, the second of its kind (and the one that matters), was hammered out in the Belarusian capital in a bid to end what was then a bloody 10-month conflict in eastern Ukraine.

But Minsk II has never been fully implemented, with its key issues still unresolved.

Here's what you need to know:

Who are the key players? A rare meeting between Russian, Ukrainian, German and French leaders in February 2015 sought to bring peace to areas of Ukraine that had been taken over by pro-Russian separatists the year before. Those areas, in Ukraine's Donbas region, became known as the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). The Ukrainian government in Kyiv asserted the two regions were in effect Russian-occupied.

The talks also aimed to work towards a political settlement for the region.

The result, Minsk II, was signed by representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the separatist leaders and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It was subsequently endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution.

What were the conditions of the agreement? A ceasefire. In February 2015, there was still heavy fighting in some areas between Ukrainian forces and Russian-supported rebels, with the Ukrainians taking heavy losses.

The withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the frontlines.

That the OSCE — a 57-member security organization that also includes the US and Canada — monitor the frontlines.

A dialogue on local elections in areas occupied by pro-Russian rebels.

The restoration of full economic and social links between the two sides, so that, for example, pensions could be paid.

That Ukrainian government control be restored over the border with Russia.

The withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries.

Constitutional reform that would provide some autonomy to the regions of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region no longer under the central government's control.

Read the full story here.