KIEV, October 9. /TASS/. The Ukrainian military will begin withdrawing the artillery from the Luhansk region under its control on October 10, speaker of the force mission’s General Staff Anatoly Stelmakh said on Friday.
"Our next step is to withdraw the artillery of caliber 85mm, and it is due to begin on October 10," he said. "We shall begin the second stage from the 20th."
He reported works on restoration of the infrastructures.
"However, restoration in Donbas will require years," he said. "We are preparing most important facilities to the winter period.
Vladislav Seleznev, spokesman for the Ukrainian General Staff, told TASS earlier that Ukrainian forces started pulling back tanks, in the framework of the first stage of withdrawal from the contact line, at 9am on October 9 and plan to finish the process in two days. Seleznev also noted that "withdrawal of artillery systems will start after the withdrawal of tanks."
Spokesman for the military operation in the Luhansk region Ruslan Tkachuk said that after the withdrawal of tanks, "the withdrawal of anti-tank guns D-48 and D-44 of 85mm caliber and mortars of 82mm caliber will start."
In accordance with the Minsk Agreements, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) started withdrawing tanks from the contact line in Donbas on October 3. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) defense ministry said that weaponry withdrawal on its territory will start after October 18 if ceasefire holds.
The supplement to the Package of Measures on Implementing the Minsk Agreements from 12 February 2015 was agreed upon on September 29 at a meeting of the Contact Group on settlement the Ukrainian crisis, which was organized in Minsk (Belarus). The supplement envisages withdrawal of tanks, artillery weapons of less than 100mm calibre, and mortars of equal to or less than 120mm calibre to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line in Donbas. On September 30, the document was signed by DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko and LPR head Igor Plotnitsky.
In accordance with the reached agreement, tanks are withdrawn first, followed by artillery weapons of less than 100mm calibre and mortars. The first stage should start two days after the complete ceasefire and finish in 15 days. The second stage will take 24 days to complete. The withdrawal will start in the "North" sector on the LPR territory and will continue in the "South" sector in DPR. The whole process of withdrawal is expected to take a total of 41 days.
The Minsk accords were signed on February 12, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The Minsk accords envisage ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, prisoner exchange, local election in Donbas, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.
The Ukrainian forces and the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.