MOSCOW, September 29. /TASS/. Representatives of the security working subgroup of the Contact Group on the Ukraine crisis, assembled in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Tuesday, are discussing Kiev’s new proposals for further withdrawal of weapons in east Ukraine, a source close to the talks told the LuhanskInformCenter news agency on Tuesday.
"New versions of the agreement on the pull-back of weapons under 100mm caliber are now under consideration," the source said, adding that the Ukrainian side put forward some new proposals which had not been made before.
The security subgroup has been working on the document to extend the pull-back of weapons to include tanks and smaller weapons systems for four months now, but failed to reach agreement. The self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk said this stemmed from an unconstructive stance of Kiev, which had laid down conditions unacceptable for Donbas.
Under a ceasefire agreement brokered in Minsk, Belarus, in February, weapons of over 100mm caliber are meant to have already been withdrawn, but both sides accuse each other of continuing to use heavy artillery and casualties are reported almost daily.
On Monday, representatives of two working subgroups — for security and political issues — formed as part of the Trilateral Contact Group met for negotiations in Minsk. The talks continued on Tuesday. Representatives of the Contact Group will also gather in the Belarusian capital on Tuesday, marking the last round of talks before Friday’s "Normandy format" meeting between leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in Paris.
On February 12, 2015, the Contact Group comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) signed a 13-point Complex of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements.
The Complex of Measures (Minsk-2), earlier agreed in Belarus with leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias starting from February 15.
This was to be followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement by at least 15 kilometers (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.
Among the terms of the February 12 deal was a commitment to intensify the work of the Contact Group. Four subgroups, tasked with addressing security, political, economic and humanitarian issues, are expected to advance work by the Contact Group in activating elements of the Minsk deal.