Government troops and Russian-backed separatists largely suspended hostilities in east Ukraine on Tuesday, raising hopes of a lasting peaceful settlement in a conflict that has raged for seven months and claimed thousands of lives.

The lull in fighting followed a proposal by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to hold a "day of silence" as a bid to revive a largely ignored cease-fire deal reached in September.

The war has left more than 4,300 people dead and exhausted a nation struggling to stave off economic collapse.

As Ukraine enters its long winter, when temperatures can drop below freezing for days if not weeks on end, combat fatigue is showing on both sides. - AP