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MOSCOW, July 19. /TASS/. Militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have begun withdrawing from the line of engagement of military equipment with guns of calibre under 100mm, the Donetsk News Agency reports from a location near Donetsk, where the withdrawal takes place.
The observers there are the OSCE mission’s representatives, as well as representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire Regime and of the republic’s defence ministry.
Earlier on Sunday, the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) began the withdrawing from the Golubovskoye settlement in presence of OSCE and reporters, LuganskInformCentre said.
"Today we are withdrawing the weapons from the line of engagement, with the exception for the area around Schastye," commander of the republic’s militia Sergei Kozlov said. "By the evening, all commanders will report the withdrawal results; we are withdrawing tanks, armoured vehicles, we are removing armoured MT-LB with installed anti-aircraft equipment."
Thus, he said, the militia will have only small arms.
Earlier on Sunday, he said following the order from head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Igor Plotnitsky, the republic would begin a unilateral withdrawal from the line of engagement of the weapons under 100-mm calibre "to the distance of at least three kilometres."
"Despite the complicated military and political situation in Ukraine, we are not going to use this advantage and provoke a new circle of conflict," he said. "While demonstrating the adherence to the Minsk agreements, we are making this step openly and unilaterally hoping the Ukrainian side follows suit."
In order to avoid whatever provocations, he said, the withdrawal will be organised in presence of the OSCE mission representatives.
"In order to prevent losses among civilians, we first of all are withdrawing the weapons and military equipment from positions near settlements," he said. "It is our unilateral initiative towards peace - we are demonstrating to the world who is fulfilling the Minsk agreements and who is only imitating the process."
An order to withdraw weapons under 100mm calibre was delivered to all units of the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk stationed along the line of engagement, DPR defence ministry's spokesman Eduard Basurin said on Saturday.
Earlier, LPR’s envoy to the peace settlement talks Vladislav Deinego told TASS participants in the subgroup on security of the Contact Group were discussing withdrawal from the line of engagement in Donbass of three types of weapons under 100mm calibre - mortars, tanks and anti-tank guns. He said "for different classes we have set different distances" for withdrawal from the line of engagement - for example, for tanks the distance was 15 kilometres.
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 Ukrainian armed forces, which are using heavy artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems.
Another meeting of the Contact Group on settlement of the situation in Ukraine’s Donbass is due in Minsk on July 21.