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KIEV, January 14. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have confirmed the necessity to hold a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine in the near future, the Ukrainian presidential press service reported Wednesday.
Poroshenko on Wednesday spoke by phone to Hollande and Merkel to discuss further steps to peacefully settle the situation in Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk regions). The leaders confirmed that the settlement could be achieved if all provisions of the Minsk agreements are fulfilled.
“In particular, they noted the importance of reaching the contact line mentioned in the Minsk memorandum of September 19, 2014, and withdrawal of military hardware,” the press service said.
Poroshenko, Merkel and Hollande agreed that the holding of a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian crisis settlement within the next few days is required to discuss implementation of Minsk agreements’ provisions. The sides called for all hostages to be released.
The sides also said they were ready for further multisided talks in the “Normandy format” (Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany) in case there is progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, the Contact Group holds a session and a fruitful foreign ministerial meeting is held.
Over 4,000 people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), according to UN data.
A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.
A memorandum was adopted on September 19, 2014 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.
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.
A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics voiced the necessity to start withdrawal of heavy armaments, swap prisoners and demilitarize the region.
The LPR militia, while fulfilling the conditions of agreements, started on December 11 unilaterally withdrawing heavy artillery from the disengagement line. In particular, it withdrew the D-30 artillery systems and BM-21 multiple rocket launchers.
A passenger bus bound from Donetsk to Zlatoustovka was shelled on January 13. Twelve people were killed and at least 16 wounded.