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MOSCOW, March 12. /TASS/. Observers of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine have registered withdrawal of a large quantity of military equipment in Donbas over the past week, SMM head Alexander Hug told a briefing on Thursday.
He said positive changes have been observed by the OSCE mission monitors over the past week during which they have witnessed withdrawal of large quantities of weapons from the frontline in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Thursday announced that Ukrainian troops are beginning combat exercises in eastern Ukraine.
"According to a reliable source in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Ukrainian military begin exercises and live firing practice near Mayorsk village, northwest of Gorlovka," the Donetsk news agency quotes the Defense Ministry as saying.
The Defense Ministry pointed out that bearing in mind the territorial location of Mayorsk, it will be very hard to observe the distance established by the Minsk accords.
The DPR Defense Ministry’s spokesman Eduard Basurin said significant Ukrainian troop reinforcements have been registered near the key port city of Mariupol and the Peski village near Donetsk.
Motorized infantry units continue being deployed to the contact line from the back areas and convoys with ammunition and building materials for fortifications are heading there, he said.
New artillery positions for Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher system batteries have been set up in the Donetsk direction to the north of Staryi Krym, he said. One more Grad BM-21 MRLS is located some 6 kilometers to the north-east of Starogranatovka, in the Donetsk region.
Some concentration of heavy artillery is also seen in the Mariupol direction near the Gnutovo village where a battery of four Grads is set up. In the Lugansk direction, six Grads are deployed in violation of the Minsk agreements, he said.
The self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic representative at Contact Group Vladislav Deinego said that Kiev continues military preparations near the LPR borders.
"According to our intelligence data, there is a concentration of heavy artillery, armaments and tanks in the security zone," Deinego told a meeting of the Russian Federation Council Committee for public support of south-eastern Ukraine residents.
"There is information that there are self-propelled artillery systems in the security zone from which all the heavy armament need to have been already withdrawn," he said.