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Ukrainian military complete fourth stage of heavy weapons' withdrawal - spokesman

March 08, 2015, 13:00 updated at: March 08, 2015, 14:27 UTC+3
That included at the fourth stage pull-back of Uragan multiple rocket launchers," spokesman of the force actions' headquarters Anatoly Stelmakh said
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© EPA/KONSTANTIN GRISHIN

KIEV, 8 March. /TASS/. Ukraine's Armed Forces have completed withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement in Donbass, spokesman of the force actions' headquarters Anatoly Stelmakh said on Sunday.

"Ukrainian military have completed the fourth stage of the withdrawal of heavy artillery from the contact line. That included at the fourth stage pull-back of Uragan multiple rocket launchers," he said in an interview with 5 channel. "Earlier, we have withdrawn anti-tank guns MT-12 "Rapira", self-propelled artillery "Acacia" and multiple rocket launchers BM-21 "Grad."

On Saturday, spokesman of the Donetsk Republic Eduard Basurin said the militia had completed fully withdrawal of heavy weapons and initiated voluntarily pull-back of 24 heavy grenade launchers from the engagement line.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE /Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/, 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 calibres of over 100 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

Marathon talks between the Normandy Four leaders - Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - in Minsk on February 12 yielded a package of agreements, which in particular envisaged ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides starting from midnight on February 15.

Concurrently, the Belarusian capital hosted a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine involving Ukraine’s ex-president Leonid Kuchma, Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics /DPR and LPR/ Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and OSCE’s envoy Heidi Tagliavini, both acting as mediators.

As a result, a package of measures was adopted to implement the Minsk agreements. The package of measures envisages the pullback of all heavy weapons by both parties 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 tactical rocket systems Tochka-U.

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.

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