The government in Kiev and separatists in East Ukraine have signed a ceasefire to go into effect today 3 pm EST GMT. The ceasefire, if it holds, could help end a conflict that has already claimed over 2,000 lives. The agreement comes as Ukraine President Poroshenko lobbies NATO for aid and membership and as NATO member states such as the US consider more sanctions against Russia.

The peace talks that led to the ceasefire were conducted in Minsk, Belarus, and according to the BBC included former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and separatist leaders from Donetsk and Luhansk. The agreement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a peace plan which listed a ceasefire as a first step.

The plan has seven points:

* First, end active offensive operations by armed forces, armed units and militia groups in southeast Ukraine in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.

* Second, withdraw Ukrainian armed forces units to a distance that would make it impossible to fire on populated areas using artillery and all types of multiple launch rocket systems.

* Third, allow for full and objective international monitoring of compliance with the ceasefire and monitoring of the situation in the safe zone created by the ceasefire.

* Fourth, exclude all use of military aircraft against civilians and populated areas in the conflict zone.

* Fifth, organise the exchange of individuals detained by force on an ‘all for all’ basis without any preconditions.

* Sixth, open humanitarian corridors for refugees and for delivering humanitarian cargoes to towns and populated areas in Donbass – Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

* Seventh, make it possible for repair brigades to come to damaged settlements in the Donbass region in order to repair and rebuild social facilities and life-supporting infrastructure and help the region to prepare for the winter.

The peace plan and resulting ceasefire are at odds with hyperbolic press reports from the US corporate media that paint the Russian position as irrational. The reality is that politicians in Kiev, bolstered by violently overthrowing a Russian-backed president with the US and EU’s help, got stoked into taking an extremely shortsighted and aggressive stance with Russia that backfired, badly. Despite the promise of hashtag, Kiev’s forces had to deal with the aftermath themselves and were unable to stop pro-Russian separatists that revolted against being ruled by US/EU backed reactionaries in Kiev. The separatists declared independent republics in East Ukraine and Crimea was absorbed directly by Russia.

Hopefully, after all the unnecessary bloodshed, the government in Kiev has realized that while neoconservative cowboys in DC and the State Department are happy to encourage them to die for US hegemony, there is not much the US and EU can do directly without jeopardizing their own security. Then again, perhaps it is too early to rule out someone doing something abysmally stupid.