KIEV, March 8. /TASS/. The Minsk agreements on the contact line in east Ukraine are being observed on the whole, Andrey Lysenko, a spokesman for the headquarters of Kiev’s military operation, said Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, another spokesman for the HQ, Anatoly Stelmakh, said the fourth stage of heavy armaments withdrawal had been completed.
Earlier, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Defense Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said militiamen completed pullback of heavy armaments in line with the Minsk agreements.
Regular talks of the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group on east Ukrainian settlement comprising representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were held in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 10-12. Talks of the Normandy Four leaders on the Ukrainian issue also ended February 12 in Minsk.
A 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September Minsk agreements was adopted at those talks.
The package in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including enforcement of the special self-rule status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
The document was signed by OSCE Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics' leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.
Both before and after the Minsk meeting, the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine have held regular phone talks both in the Normandy format (the name was given after the first Normandy Four meeting in June 2014 in Normandy) and separately. The sides agreed to continue such talks.
Clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics, have left thousands dead and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the OSCE agreed on a ceasefire at talks on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The ceasefire has reportedly been numerously violated since.
Ukraine’s parliament on September 16, 2014 adopted the law on a special self-rule status for certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions for three years. The law took effect October 18, 2014 but was then repealed by Kiev.
The Trilateral Contact Group adopted a memorandum on September 19, 2014 in Minsk. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the 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.
The Contact Group’s meetings in late December 2014 and on January 31, 2015 did not bring major results and the Group had to meet again in February 2015.