After 17 hours of negotiations, Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement in Minsk on the morning of 12 February:
It has been a very long night in Minsk; the negotiations were extremely difficult. Everyone knew what was at stake. Everyone was aware of the consequences had we left today without reaching an agreement.
In the end, it was the shared conviction that this must not happen that kept us negotiating and working hard through the night.
I am pleased that it was possible to agree on a joint declaration.
I say that without any excitement and certainly without euphoria, for it did not come easily. Nevertheless, we have achieved something.
The most important thing is that Moscow and Kyiv have agreed on a ceasefire which is due to enter into force on Saturday night. We reaffirmed the September Minsk agreements. For the first time, we have set out a clear timetable for the implementation of provisions of the Minsk agreements – on elections, border control and prisoner exchanges, to name but a few.
To some that will not be enough. We had also hoped for more. But that is what the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia were able to agree on tonight. We hope that both sides have negotiated sincerely and with good intentions here in Minsk. Moreover, we expect them to refrain from anything which could undermine the agreements reached today in the particularly delicate phase before the ceasefire enters into force.
Eruptions of violence could still undo all of our efforts. Today’s agreement is not a comprehensive settlement and certainly no breakthrough. However, after weeks of violence, Minsk II could mark a step away from this spiral of military escalation and could lead to political impetus. If there is a chance of this happening then our efforts have been worth it.