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MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. The withdrawal of military hardware of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) from the contact line in the conflict zone in Ukraine’s south-east will be conducted in two stages the first of which will begin on October 3, deputy chief of staff of the LPR People’s Militia corps Colonel Igor Yashchenko told a briefing at the LuhanskInformCenter on Thursday.
"The hardware withdrawal will be organized in two stages in the period from October 3 to 17 — the first stage, and from October 18 to November 10 — the second stage," Yashchenko said.
He added that in accordance with the corresponding document, the hardware will be pulled out at a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line.
"However, our side is withdrawing from the contact line that existed on September 19, 2014 and the Ukrainian side is withdrawing from the current contact line. So there will be areas in which the security zone will be more than 30 km wide," Yashchenko said.
"It’s the final stage of the hardware withdrawal measures within the framework of the Minsk agreements that will ensure peace and security for our citizens," he said.
According to Yashchenko, LPR intends to strictly comply with all the assumed obligations.
"Our side will comply without fail — we have always complied with all the agreements signed by our political leadership," he said.
On September 30, the heads of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics (LPR and DPR), Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko, signed a supplement to the Package of Measures to implement the Minsk agreements of February 15, 2015 in part concerning the withdrawal of tanks, as well as artillery weapons with calibre up to 100 mm and mortars with calibre u to 120 mm inclusive.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfill the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
On July 18, the Donetsk and Luhansk republics announced their plans to unilaterally withdraw tanks and armoured vehicles with a calibre of less than 100mm to a distance of at least three kilometers away from the line of military engagement.
The Donetsk republic said at the end of July it had pulled back weapons under 100mm calibre from the contact line, leaving tanks only in "hot spots" to the north of Donetsk and in Debaltsevo. The Luhansk republic said it had also completed the withdrawal of weapons from the contact line, leaving tanks and armoured vehicles only on positions near the Schastye settlement. The republics’ self-defence forces also expressed their readiness to pull back weapons from "hot spots" if Kiev took a similar action.