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Ukrainian forces leave heavy weaponry along disengagement line — spokesman

March 10, 2015, 15:46 UTC+3 KIEV

If militiamen launch an offensive, the artillery will be returned to the front line

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KIEV, March 10. /TASS/. Heavy weaponry remains with the Ukrainian forces stationed near the disengagement line, representative of Kiev’s military operation Andriy Lysenko said on Tuesday.

"Ukraine has fulfilled its obligations on the Minsk agreements," Lysenko said. "However, in order not to endanger the front line, servicemen kept heavy infantry weapons that can stop heavy equipment [of the militia]," he added. "If militiamen launch an offensive, the artillery will be returned to the front line," Lysenko noted. "Over the last 24 hours, there were no casualties [among Ukrainian forces], nine people were injured," he said.

The Ukrainian army is using anti-aircraft guns, mortars, including self-propelled of 120mm and 82 mm caliber, and anti-tank missile systems. On March 8, the representative of the military operation headquarters Anatoly Stelmakh said Ukraine withdrew from the disengagement line all heavy artillery, including MT-12 Rapira anti-tank guns, Akatsiya self-propelled howitzers, BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers and Uragan systems.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) defense ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said earlier that almost all military equipment withdrawn by Ukrainian forces is "located in 20-30 kilometers from the actual disengagement line and can return to initial positions in a couple of hours." Kiev "intentionally avoids announcing distances which were clearly outlined in the Minsk agreements from February 12 for heavy artillery withdrawal," Basurin said.

"We continue receiving worrisome news about Ukrainian forces’ build-up in the safety zone," the spokesman said. In particular, there are currently more than 200 armored vehicles, nine Uragan multiple rocket launcher systems and six artillery guns of 122mm and 152mm caliber near Artyomovsk.

Basurin earlier said that the self-defense forces have completed heavy weaponry withdrawal, including 24 heavy mortars. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) have also confirmed the completion of weaponry withdrawal from the disengagement line.

Minsk agreements on Ukraine conflict settlement

On February 12, negotiations in the "Normandy format" were held in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The talks lasted for around 14 hours.

Simultaneously, a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement was held in Minsk, bringing together former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, both representing the Ukrainian side, alongside representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special envoy to Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, who acts as a mediator.

As a result, a package of measures on implementing the Minsk agreements was adopted, including on ceasefire in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions starting from February 15, heavy weaponry withdrawal and long-term political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

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