KIEV, October 4. /TASS/. The process of withdrawal of weapons under 100mm caliber from the line of engagement in Donbass will be held in two stages and will take 41 days, the press centre of the force operation said on Sunday.
"On October 4, the enemy observed the ceasefire regime and did not open fire at the Ukrainian positions in the force operation zone. Cessation of combat operations and shelling made it possible to begin the implementation of the plan on withdrawal of weapons under 100mm caliber," the press centre said.
Before the beginning, according to the press centre, the parties handed over to representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) lists of weapons and vehicles to be pulled out to a distance of at least 15 kilometres off the contact line. "On October 5, the Ukrainian military will begin withdrawal of tanks from the line of engagement starting from the Luhansk region. Subject to withdrawal in stage one will be T-64 and T-72 tanks, anti-tank guns D-48 and D-44 of a 85 mm caliber and 2B-9 mortars of a 82mm caliber," the press centre said.
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. On the following day, the document was signed by the leaders of the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky. Weapons will be pulled out in two stages. 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. Thus, the entire weapons withdrawal process will take 41 days. The process will be monitored by the Joint Centre for Coordinate and Control (JCCC).
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 Luhansk (DPR and LPR) 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 Friday, October 2, leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine held talks in Paris in the so-called Normandy Four 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.