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DPR says it will pull weapons back to engagement line if Ukraine stages offensive

July 19, 2015, 17:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, July 19. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] will pull its weapons of a caliber less than 100mm back to their previous positions in case the situation along the line of engagement aggravates, Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the DPR defence ministry, said on Sunday.

"If the Ukrainian side tries to break through the line of engagement or continues shelling of civilian population or DPR militias, the weapons will be pulled back to their positions but only after a relevant order from the commander-in-chief," the Donetsk News Agency quoted him as saying.

Earlier of Sunday, representatives of the DRP defence ministry, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] and the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination [JCCC] visited two section near the line of engagement where the DPR was withdrawing its weapons of under 100mm caliber from.

On Saturday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics [DPR and LPR] announced withdrawal of tanks and armoured vehicles equipped with weapons under 100mm caliber to a distance of three kilometres away from the line of engagement. Possible withdrawal of such weapons has been discussed at Minsk talks on the settlement in Donbass but no agreement on that matter was reached with Kiev. So, the self-proclaimed republics have taken a decision on unilateral withdrawal in the interests of the soonest peace settlement.

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 Luhansk 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.

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