MOSCOW, October 3. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic on the first day of withdrawal of equipment took to the rear positions 50 tanks. The process was controlled by OSCE observers, the republic's militia told the Lugansk Information Centre on Saturday.
"All columns of the withdrawn equipment marched in the presence of the OSCE mission representatives, and as the equipment got to the storage areas they inspected the equipment and checked its registration numbers," the militia's representative said.
The Ukrainian side is also expected to withdraw military equipment today - though later, in the afternoon.
On September 30, the republic’s head Igor Plotnitsky signed an addendum to the Complex of Measures on implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12, 2015 regarding withdrawal of tanks and artillery of under 100 mm calibre and mortars of calibre under 120mm.
The Ukrainian commanders of the anti-terror mission in Donbass said the date to begin withdrawing weapons of under 100mm calibre should be offered by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. Spokesperson for the General Headquarters Vladislav Seleznev said "when done, and if the silence regime is observed, within 48 hours will begin the first phase of withdrawal in the Lugansk region."
On Tuesday, September 29, the Trilateral Contact Group initialled a document envisaging withdrawal of weapons under 100mm calibre to a distance of 15 kilometres for the line of engagement. The first stage would begin in two days, OSCE’s (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Special Representative in Ukraine Martin Sajdik said, adding that first tanks would be pulled back, then artillery and then mortars. The first stage of 15 days will be followed by a 24-day second stage.
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 fulfil 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 Lugansk 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 Lugansk 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 kilometres 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 Lugansk 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.
On Friday, October 2, leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine held talks in Paris in the so-called Normandy format. According to Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the talks were "intense and business-like."
He said the leaders discussed implementation of the Minsk Agreements, including withdrawal of armaments, elections, amnesty, gas issues and other crises, including air services. The Kremlin spokesman confirmed the sides held constructive talks and confirmed that the Minsk deals have no alternative.