MINSK, July 21. /TASS/. A new meeting of the Contact Group for settling the civil armed conflict in eastern Ukraine is likely to be held here on Tuesday on the background of intensified expectations.
In spite of the continuing sporadic exchanges of fire, the bellicose rhetoric of parties to the conflict, and the absence of direct dialogue between them the agenda includes, for the first time ever some issues that might give a really powerful boost to the peace process.
The parties to the consultations in Minsk have made the biggest progress in field of a pullback of weapons with the caliber less than 100 mm. This pullback will be the prime topic at the meeting, Vladislav Deinego, the plenipotentiary representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic said on Monday.
Martin Sajdik, the special representative of the European security organization OSCE at the talks, expressed the hope that some form of agreement on the problem would be reached at the Tuesday talks.
Energetic discussions on the document have been held for the past three months and many experts and diplomats hoped it would be signed at the previous meeting of the Contact Group on July 7, but their hopes proved to be futile.
On this background, the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk republics began a unilateral pullout of tanks and armored vehicles equipped with weapons of the calibers less than 100 mm to a distance of three and more kilometers away from the Contact Line.
The Donetsk Republic military are keeping the armaments only at the sections of the frontline where fighting has been the tensest (to the north of Donetsk and Debaltsevo).
The Luhansk Republic is pulling weapons back along the entire Line of Contact on its territory except for the township of Shchastye.
Officials in the two republics have expressed the hope this move will become a yet another serious argument in the dialogue on security matters they are conducting with the Kiev government.
"I do hope Kiev will heed it and the document will be signed at the forthcoming meeting," Donetsk plenipotentiary representative Denis Pushilin said.
Also, there are grounds for hoping progress will be made on settling the situation in the township of Shirokino, which the Donbas militia unilaterally declared a demilitarized zone back on July 1. The deputy chief of the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, Alexander Hug, confirmed more than two weeks ago all the DPR units had been pulled out of there.
In contrast, units of the Ukrainian Army are still there and the so-called ‘volunteer battalions’ have said they will not abandon Shirokino even if they get an order from Kiev to do this.