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Kiev forces accused of using Pion heavy howitzers in Donbas shelling

July 28, 2015, 15:21 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The self-propelled gun can even shoot projectiles with nuclear warheads
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Ukrainian howitzers (archive)

Ukrainian howitzers (archive)

© AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

MOSCOW, July 28. /TASS/. Ukraine’s security forces have shelled the country’s south-eastern Donbass region from the 2S7 Pion self-propelled howitzer, defense spokesperson for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Eduard Basurin said on Tuesday.

The howitzer was designed in the USSR to neutralise critical targets of the enemy in the tactical depth of 50 kilometers.

This weapon was designed in the 1970s for the destruction of tactical nuclear weapons delivery vehicles and remained in Ukraine. The self-propelled gun can even shoot projectiles with nuclear warheads. Basurin has accused Kiev of using this "god of nuclear war."

"Surveying the terrain, which came under fire from the Ukrainian armed forces, we have found a fragment of a shell fired presumably from the 2S7 Pion artillery system, calibre 203mm, maximum range - 47 km," the Donetsk news agency quotes Basurin as saying.

The DPR Defence Ministry called these actions "gross and systematic violation of the Minsk agreements" and regarded it as an attempt to "provoke DPR divisions to start hostilities."

The Contact Group on the Ukrainian crisis settlement at a meeting in the Belarusian capital Minsk on July 21 agreed upon but not yet signed the text of a final agreement on a phased withdrawal of tanks, armoured personnel carriers and weapons of calibre less than 100mm from the contact line. This decision was preceded by the actions of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR republics that unilaterally pulled out weapons of calibre less than 100mm at a distance of 3 kilometres. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said then he had instructed his representatives in the Contact Group to sign an agreement on a 30-kilometer 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 July 21, the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement at a meeting in Minsk reached an agreement on gradual withdrawal of tanks, armoured 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 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 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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