KIEV, February 26. /TASS/. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed on Thursday that the situation around the east Ukrainian town of Debaltsevo remained calm.
Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine, told a news conference in Kiev: "We were for the second time in Debaltsevo yesterday. I am pleased to say that we have observed a calm situation until 6 p.m."
Bociurkiw highlighted the need for continuous presence of OSCE observers in the areas where parties to the Ukrainian conflict were pulling out their heavy weapons.
"Concerning final locations, it is necessary that our representatives are always present there to constantly confirm the presence of weaponry at these places," he said.
Debaltsevo, a railway junction town in Ukraine’s east, was the focus of most of the fighting between people’s militia and Ukrainian soldiers in mid-January.
Under a ceasefire deal agreed by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany at talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on February 12, the conflicting parties were required to withdraw heavy weapons from the front line.
Denis Pushilin, plenipotentiary representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said on Wednesday that east Ukraine’s self-defense forces had withdrawn almost 400 items of heavy armaments from the areas adjoining the line of contact since the ceasefire took effect formally. Some 320 items had been pulled out of the Debaltsevo area, local defense ministry officials added.
Militias of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic also confirmed they had completed the withdrawal of multiple artillery rocket systems from Debaltsevo. The republic’s militia deputy commander, Vitaly Kiselev, said on Tuesday the withdrawal of heavy rocket and cannon artillery from other areas was expected to be completed in coming days.
Kiev’s military spokesman said on Thursday "all conditions are being created to prepare for the heavy weaponry withdrawal", but no order had been yet received. "The routes for withdrawal have been prepared and an order to launch these actions is expected to be received," said Andrey Lusenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.