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MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. Kiev has pulled up to the front line a group of 70,000 soldiers, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko said on Saturday.
"As of now, over 70,000 Ukrainian military are along the line of engagement, and every day the number is growing," he said.
Since Kiev is not ready for any steps to demilitarise Donbass, the expanding of the military presence cannot at all prove Kiev’s aspirations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
He also said the parties to talks in Minsk had not included in the Minsk agreement withdrawal of weapons under 100 millimetres as Ukraine was not inclined to demilitarise the line of engagement. "At the last meeting in Minsk we discussed withdrawal of weapons. Ukraine rejected the agreement saying tanks and mortars should remain there," the Donetsk News Agency quoted him.
A peace deal struck on February 12 in Minsk, Belarus, by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and people’s militias starting from February 15, followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement and prisoner release. 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.
The DPR completed the withdrawal of its heavy weapons by March 1. Nevertheless, in recent days populated localities in the Donetsk People’s Republic have come under intensive shelling from the positions of the Ukraine army, which is using heavy artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems.