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Militia can't confirm withdrawal of weaponry by Kiev's volunteer battalions

February 24, 2015, 14:32 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The regular army has begun withdrawing heavy armaments

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© AP Photo/Markiv Mykhailo, Pool

MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. Ukraine’s forces have begun heavy weaponry withdrawal from the contact line, while there is no confirmation that the process has been launched by the volunteer battalions, a deputy commander of the self-proclaimed Luhansk republic’s militia said on Tuesday.

"In line with the schedule, they [Kiev troops] have partly started withdrawing heavy weaponry," Vitaly Kiselev was quoted by the LuganskInformCentre as saying.

"The only problem is that the Ukrainian army is not controlling the private battalions that also possess heavy weaponry. We cannot confirm that they [volunteer battalions] comply with orders and have started the weaponry pullback," Kiselev said.

Kiselev stressed that the ceasefire is fully observed from the eastern side of the contact line (near Stanytsa Luhanskaya) to the western side (Debaltsevo area). "There is an understanding," he said.

Militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic said they had started a full-scale heavy weaponry withdrawal from the contact line on Tuesday morning. Militias of the self-proclaimed Luhansk republic said they were to start withdrawing rocket artillery from Debaltsevo at noon.

Deputy commander of the Luhansk republic’s militia, Vitaly Kiselev, said BM-21 launch vehicles were withdrawn on Tuesday and would be taken to the place of permanent deployment.

The withdrawal of heavy rocket and cannon artillery from other areas is expected to be completed in the coming days, he said. "The exact schedule for the withdrawal will be known after it is agreed with the republic’s head," he said.

Kiev's military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Tuesday that Kiev will start heavy weaponry withdrawal from contact line if the "silence regime" is observed for two days.

"The Ukrainian side has prepared the sites and routes for withdrawing heavy weaponry. If during two days the silence regime is supported, this will serve as a signal for starting the heavy weaponry withdrawal," Lysenko, the speaker of the Council for National Security and Defense, told journalists.

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