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LPR begins pullback of heavy weapons from engagement line - head of parliament

February 14, 2015, 14:32 UTC+3
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LUGANSK, February 14. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic began withdrawal of its heavy weapons from the engagement line, head of the republic’s parliament Alexei Kayakin said on Saturday.

"We are pulling back the heavy weapons, and our soldiers remain at the positions," he said. "We are doing everything to stop the war."

Combat actions between the Ukrainian military and militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) during Kiev’s punitive operation in the country’s east conducted since mid-April 2014 have claimed over 5,400 lives and nearly a million people had to flee their homes seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, mostly in Russia, according to the UN data.

On February 11, the Normandy Quartet negotiations - presidents of Russia, Ukraine and France and German chancellor - in Minsk in various formats (in private and with other delegations) lasted for the total of 16 hours from 7:15p.m. local time.

On February 12, members of the Trilateral Contact Group on the Ukrainian conflict settlement signed a four-page set of measures to implement the earlier Minsk agreements.

The document was signed by OSCE Special Representative Heidi Tagliavini, Ukraine’s second President Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as leaders of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky. 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 conflicting parties agreed on withdrawal of all heavy weapons. Parties will pullback all heavy weapons to locations equidistant from the disengagement line in order to create a security zone at least 50 kilometres wide for artillery systems with a calibre of 100 mm or more, a zone of security 70 kilometres wide for multiple rocket launchers and a zone 140 kilometres wide for multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch and the Tochka-U tactical rocket systems.

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. "The pullback of the mentioned heavy armaments should begin no later than the second day after the ceasefire and be completed within fourteen days," the package of measures says. The document points the OSCE will promote this process with support from the Trilateral Contact Group."

The package of measures contains a special item requiring "effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regimen and pullout of heavy armaments by the OSCE as of the first day of the pullback, with the use of all required technical means, including satellites, drones, radars and other systems."

A separate point of the document provides for release and exchange of all hostages and illegally held persons based on the "all for all" principle that should be completed after the weapons withdrawal - on the fifth day at the latest. The sides also agreed on restoring the Ukrainian side’s control over the state border throughout the conflict zone.

Another point of the document provides for withdrawal of all foreign armed groups and mercenaries from Ukraine’s territory under OSCE supervision; all illegal armed groups shall be disarmed.

The set of agreed measures envisages Ukraine’s constitutional reform with the country’s new constitution talking effect by late 2015. The key element of the new constitution will be power decentralisation and adoption of permanent legislation on a special status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine’s south-east.

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