MOSCOW, October 2. /TASS/. Reconnaissance units of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have spotted two Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) of the Ukrainian army near the contact line in the south of the republic, DPR defense spokesman Eduard Basurin told reporters on Friday.
"Reconnaissance patrols have spotted two Grad MLRS in the Gnutovo settlement, 8 km [almost 5 miles] from the separation line," he is quoted by the Donetsk News Agency. "The arrival of eight automotive vehicles with ammunition for the MRLS has been observed in the area of the Kleban-Byk settlement, located 14 km from the contact line."
Eduard Basurin added that eight heavy artillery of the Ukrainian forces have been spotted south of the village of Granitnoye (12 km north-east of Telmanovo) 500 metres away from the front lines.
"The concentration of six multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicles (MT-LB) with four two-axle towed field guns 2A36 Giatsint-B, two MT-12 Rapira guns and two self-propelled artillery systems has been observed south of the Granitnoye settlement," Basurin said.
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 launch systems and a zone 140 kilometres wide for multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch and for Tochka-U tactical rocket systems.
On September 12, in Berlin, foreign ministers of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) discussed settlement of the conflict in Ukraine. Despite of no evident progress, the parties were positive about the talks. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he had a positive impression from the talks. "There have been certain arguments concerning the order of steps regarding the constitutional reform, the necessary actions from Kiev’s authorities in providing a permanent special status for Donbas, but the arguments we had, I believe, have been heard."
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said "as before, it was not easy, however, I can say with relief that there has been less confrontation than before. We have been able to move forward on some issues," he said. The talks also showed "how difficult every step forward was. What we have achieved today was a result of hard work and must be implemented by the Contact Group." "There is hope that today’s meeting will contribute to defusing tensions in eastern Ukraine and also that it was part of preparations for the "Four’s" summit due on October 2," the German foreign minister said.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the violence in Ukraine has killed 6,500 people in the past year, wounded 16,000 and left 5 million people in need of humanitarian aid. With more than 1.3 million registered IDPs, Ukraine has now the ninth largest number of internally displaced in the world, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.