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MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] and Lugansk People’s Republic [LPR] are ready to withdraw unilaterally the weapons under 100-millimetres’ calibre three kilometres from the line of engagement, the DPR’s head Alexander Zakharchenko and LPR’s envoy to the Contact Group Vladislav Deinego said in a joint statement.
"In demonstration of adherence to the Minsk agreements, we are ready to undertake next steps towards peace. For that we shall withdraw our divisions with tanks and armoured vehicles equipped with weapons under 100-millimetres’ calibre from the engagement line for the distance of three kilometres. I would like to stress now, we are ready to do so along the entire front with the exceptions for problematic areas," the Donetsk News Agency quoted Zakharchenko.
Deinego, in his turn, said "the Lugansk People’s Republic supports the initiative from the Donetsk Republic on bringing to normal the situation in Donbass."
"The only exception for us is the region around the Schastye settlement, from where we shall be able to withdraw the remaining weapons and equipment only as the Ukrainian side fulfils similar obligations at other locations," Lugansk’s representative said.
Head of the Donetsk Republic said they would not as yet withdraw the weapons from the regions to the north from Donetsk and Debaltsevo. "They make the total of only 10-12% of the engagement line. We are ready for any-format dialogues on withdrawal of weapons from those regions. Though only with the representatives of the Ukrainian side, who have there realistic authorities and power. Those, who can not only speak, but also insist on fulfilment of the agreements by their subordinates," he said.
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.
Another meeting of the Contact Group is due in Minsk on July 21.