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Russian Senators demonstrate cautious optimism about truce in eastern Ukraine

February 15, 2015, 23:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Lawmakers of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house on Sunday voiced cautious optimism as the first day of ceasefire in eastern Ukraine was coming to a close. Altogether, the Russian lawmakers warn against provocations from the part of separate battalions that might not obey the orders.

An agreement of ceasefire in Donbass came into effect overnight to Sunday and the ceasefire regime has been generally observed by the parties.

"It is a good start. In any case, Donbass has been living peacefully for almost 24 hours, with no explosions, no deaths, no destructions. And this is admitted by all parties to the conflict - by both the militias and the Ukrainian authorities," Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council international committee, told TASS late on Sunday, adding however he was watching the development of the situation in eastern Ukraine with alarm.

"The nigh that is closing in will be troubled. There is a possibility of provocations from various groups, separate battalions that I am not sure fully obey the central Kiev authorities," he said. "Such provocations might trigger some undesirable developments."

Also, he said he was worried over the so-called Debaltsevo pocket. "So far, it is not clear what will become of it, how Ukrainian troops entrapped there would act, whether they would surrender arms or not. This is worrying," he said.

"I believe the leaders of the four countries have accomplished the key task - the truce has come into force and I hope the French and German leaders would not let /Ukrainian President Petro/ Poroshenko to violate this truce," Dzhabarov underscored.

Earlier on Sunday, Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Federation Council international committee, told journalists the current situation over the truce in eastern Ukraine gave grounds for cautious optimism. "Regrettably, some skirmishes continue, but there is a feeling that both Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk have issued necessary orders and that combat operations are subsiding," he said. "Now, everything will depend on how long this lull is going to last. The longer the parties observe the truce the more difficult it will be to break it. And today in this sense is a critical day."

"We are fully aware that the current truce, the agreements that were reached in Minsk through such big efforts, have very many opponents. There are political forces that are obviously interested in the continuation of this conflict," he noted. "I am confident that continuation of this conflict is not in the interests of people living in southeastern Ukraine. Neither is it in the interests of the rest of Ukraine. But, regrettably, there are different interests and different points of view on Ukraine state structure. We see a conflict of various political platforms."

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19, 2014 in Minsk. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014. The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

At Minsk talks in the "Normandy format" /Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine/ on Ukraine crisis settlement on February 11-12, a package of measures was adopted to implement the Minsk agreements. The first point of the document sets condition for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire beginning from 00:00 hours (Kiev time) on February 15, 2015.

The package of measures envisages the pullback of all heavy weapons by both parties to locations equidistant from the disengagement line in order to create a security zone at least 50 kilometers wide for artillery systems with a caliber of 100 mm or more, a zone of security 70 kilometers wide for multiple rocket launchers and a zone 140 kilometers wide for multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch and the tactical rocket systems Tochka-U.

The final document says that the Ukrainian troops are to be pulled back away from the current line of engagement and the militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, from the engagement line set by the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

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