Ukraine extends law on special status for rebel regions

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian lawmakers have extended a law offering special status to separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine in accordance with agreements brokered by France and Germany.

Thursday’s vote follows talks in Paris between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany that focused on efforts to revive a 2015 peace agreement. The 2015 Minsk deal envisaged a high degree of autonomy for the rebel regions, in what was considered a diplomatic coup for the Kremlin.

Ukraine has codified the provisions of the deal in a special law. It has been extended repeatedly but never implemented as fighting in the east has continued and efforts aimed at a political settlement have stalled.

The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces has killed over 14,000 since 2014 and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

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