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KIEV, July 21. /TASS/. Ukraine has withdrawn its weaponry in Donbas in accordance with the Minsk agreements, the military operation’s press service said on Tuesday.
"Weaponry has been withdrawn to a necessary distance in Donbas in accordance with the Minsk agreements," a press center spokesman Yuzeph Venskovich said adding that self-defense forces continue to shell Ukrainian positions. "Shellings intensify, though DPR and LPR [self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics] armed units were allegedly withdrawn from the contact line," Venskovich noted.
Weaponry withdrawal is envisaged by the Minsk agreements on Ukraine. The Minsk accords were signed on February 12, after negotiations in the so-called Normandy format in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The talks lasted for around 14 hours. Simultaneously, a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement was held in Minsk.
The Minsk deals also envisage ceasefire, prisoner exchange, local elections in Donbas, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.
The Ukrainian forces and the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.
On July 18, DPR and LPR announced the start of withdrawing tanks and armored vehicles of less than 100mm caliber from the contact line to at least 3 kilometers. DPR weaponry remains only to the north of Donetsk and in Debaltsevo - the tensest parts of the contact line. LPR is withdrawing weaponry everywhere along the contact line, excluding the area near the Schastye settlement.
Withdrawing weaponry of less than 100mm caliber has been discussed in Minsk for a long time, but the sides failed to reach an agreement. DPR and LPR decided to start the withdrawal unilaterally in the interests of establishing peace.