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No weapons withdrawal by Kiev from contact line seen, despite Poroshenko promises — DPR

July 23, 2015, 14:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to DPR defense spokesman Eduard Basurin, the Ukrainian armed forces, on the contrary, are moving additional heavy artillery pieces to the front line

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MOSCOW, July 23. /TASS/. The Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) has not observed the withdrawal of weapons by the Ukrainian army from the contact line, despite promises of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, DPR defense spokesman Eduard Basurin told reporters on Thursday.

"Despite yesterday's announcement by [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko of the establishment of a 30-kilometer demilitarized zone along the sides’ separation line and the withdrawal of weapons from the zone of contact, no withdrawal of weapons and military equipment by the Ukrainian army units has been observed," the Donetsk news agency quoted him as saying.

According to Basurin, the Ukrainian armed forces, on the contrary, are moving additional heavy artillery pieces to the front line.

On Wednesday, Poroshenko said he had instructed his representatives in the Contact Group on the Ukrainian crisis resolution to sign an agreement on a 30-km buffer zone in Donbas. "I have instructed our representatives to sign with the OSCE and Russia, which is member [of the Contact Group] an agreement that will guarantee a 30-km buffer zone in the contact zone — to withdraw tanks, artillery and rid Severodonetsk, Lisichansk, Popasnaya of cannonades," he said. According to Poroshenko, the sides "reached these agreements" in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Tuesday, July 21. The Ukrainian president said he hoped that "the weapons withdrawal under the OSCE control will begin in several days."

"I very much hope that it’s a real ceasefire beginning, release of hostages and ensuring control over the peace observance," Poroshenko added.

On July 18, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) announced their plans to unilaterally withdraw heavy weaponry from the contact line. LPR also completed the withdrawal of weaponry from the contact line, leaving tanks and armoured vehicles on positions only near the Shchastye settlement.

On Tuesday, the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement at a meeting in Minsk reached an agreement on gradual withdrawal of tanks, armored vehicles and weapons of less than 100mm calibre by both sides to a distance of 3 km from the contact line.

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 kilometers wide for artillery systems with a calibre of 100 mm or more, a zone of security 70 kilometers wide for multiple rocket launchers and a zone 140 kilometers 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 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.

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