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KIEV, March 9. /TASS/. Ukraine has pulled put a larger part of its heavy weapons from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday.
"Ukraine has withdrawn the bulk of its multiple launch rocket and artillery systems," he said in in an interview with the Ukrainian television Channel One. He also said that Kiev saw that Donetsk and Lugansk militias had withdrawn "a considerable part of their weapons."
Poroshenko said that no shelling had been reported along "the 485-kilometre section of the front, with the exception of Peski and Avdeyevka."
Earlier, Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the defence ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that the DPR militias had finished the withdrawal of heavy weapons and begun to pull put 24 heavy mortars from the line of contact on their own initiative. Representatives of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) also reported the completion of heavy weapons pullback.
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.
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.
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 kilometers wide for artillery systems with a caliber of 100 mm or more, a zone of security 70 kilometers wide for multiple rocket launchers and a zone 140 kilometers 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.