MOSCOW, October 15. /TASS/. The militia of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) has begun withdrawal of mortars with a calibre of less than 120 mm from the contact line, in accordance with the Minsk agreements, the LuganskInformCentre reported on Thursday from the site.
LPR is currently pulling out mortars from the Alexandrovsky range area, in particular.
Previously, deputy commander of the Luhansk People’s Militia Corps, Major-General Sergey Kozlov, said that representatives of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) of the ceasefire regime and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special monitoring mission (SMM) for Ukraine had been informed of the militia plans to launch the withdrawal of mortars on October 15.
"Tomorrow we plan to go ahead with the next phase and to begin the withdrawal of mortars with calibre under 120 mm from the line of contact," Kozlov said on Wednesday.
LPR People’s Militia acts in accordance with the withdrawal schedule, which is enshrined in the supplement to the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements. "We have informed representatives of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination and the OSCE that we plan to go ahead tomorrow with the withdrawal of mortars from the line of contact," he said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak also confirmed the intention of the Ukrainian side to begin the withdrawal of mortars in sector A on October 15 within the framework of the first phase of weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in the Donbas region.
On September 29, following a meeting of the Contact Group and its security working subgroup that took place in Minsk, the participants in the talks initialled the document on withdrawal of weapons with calibre under 100 mm and tanks from the line of contact. The withdrawal will be carried out in two stages. Tanks are withdrawn first followed by artillery and mortars.
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 the Ukrainian crisis settlement, which was organised 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 kilometres 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.