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“Kiev does not control all units. Far from everyone in Ukraine needs truce. There are those who violate it,” Zakharchenko told journalists.
According to the United Nations, some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).
Zakharchenko said the DPR capital Donetsk was shelled from the Ukrainian side Wednesday morning. But DPR militia units “did not open return fire on the day when the academic year started” in the republic, he said.
Earlier, representatives of the DPR and LPR repeatedly voiced their readiness to observe the ceasefire regime agreed upon in early September in Belarusian capital Minsk.
On September 23, DPR militiamen started withdrawing military hardware from the contact line under the Minsk Memorandum. “We are implementing the treaty’s terms and withdrawing heavy artillery, unlike the Ukrainian side,” DPR Defense Minister Vladimir Kononov told a TASS correspondent then.
LPR head Igor Plotnitsky assured journalists September 30 that all agreements on the truce are being implemented. “We know where the troops have not been withdrawn but agreements will be fulfilled. On our part, for sure,” he said.During the first “June truce”, he recalled “we kept our word, we did not use weapons. If we gave our word, signed [documents], we are going to keep it,” Plotnitsky said.
On September 20 in Minsk, the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.
The document contains nine points, including in particular 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.
The memorandum was signed by OSCE representative to Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador in Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, Zakharchenko from the DPR and Plotnitsky from the LPR. The talks also involved first deputy DPR premier Andrey Purgin and LPR Supreme Council chairman Alexey Karyakin.
Ukraine’s parliament on September 16 granted a special self-rule status to certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions for three years. Elections to local self-government bodies were set for December 7. The Verkhovna Rada also passed a law on amnesty for participants of combat activities in Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions.