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KIEV, February 15. /TASS/. The ceasefire regime in eastern Ukraine has been generally observed in the past 12 hours, Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, the Chief Monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) told a briefing on Sunday.
However, he noted that the city of Luhansk had come under shelling at about 01:45 a.m. local time (02:45 a.m. Moscow time). Also, he said, a number of episodes of ceasefire violation had been reported from the area of Debaltsevo.
He said the OSCE monitors had failed to reach Debaltsevo to observe the situation. In this connection, he called on both parties to the conflict to provide access to all territories within the conflict zone for representatives of the OSCE mission.
Michael Bociurkiw, Spokesperson of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, said the number of OSCE observers in eastern Ukraine would be increased to 350. Moreover, the organization, in his words, planned to use unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite technologies to monitor the observance of the truce.
Mediatory efforts of Russia and the OSCE yielded results on September 5, when talks between parties to the Ukrainian conflict were held in Belarusian capital city Minsk. 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 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 Luhansk 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 Luhansk regions in Ukraine’s south-east.