MOSCOW, October 18. /TASS/. The defence ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) does not fix the Ukrainian military preparing for withdrawal of the weapons from the line of engagement, though official Kiev claimed otherwise, the ministry’s spokesman Eduard Basurin said on Sunday.
"There are no active actions besides the claims," he said. "Under the agreements, the first to be withdrawn are tanks; and on Saturday I said the Ukrainian military are building up the group of tanks at certain directions."
A representative of the Ukrainian presidential administration Andrei Lysenko said earlier that on Sunday, October 18, Kiev will begin withdrawing cannons and mortars in the Donetsk region. However, speaker of the Ukrainian General Staff Vladislav Seleznev said no withdrawal was due on Sunday, as they will be only putting together lists of the equipment to be further on verified with the OSCE Monitoring Mission.
DPR, in its turn, rescheduled withdrawing of the weapons of calibre under 100mm from October 18 to October 21 "because of regular violations of ceasefire by the Ukrainian military."
Since September 1 the sides to the Ukrainian conflict agreed a complete cessation of fire along the contact line in line with the Minsk peace deal. The ceasefire became the main condition for a new withdrawal of weapons in compliance with the document initialled by the Contact Group on September 29 and later signed by the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and Kiev as well.
On 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. In line with the agreement, the Ukrainian military are due to pull the weapons back from the current contact line while the militias of the self-proclaimed republics from the line determined on September 19, 2014, when first agreements on ceasefire were achieved and the Contact Group signed a memorandum on cessation of fire.
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 September 29, a supplement to the Package of Measures on Implementing the Minsk Agreements from 12 February 2015 was agreed at a meeting of the Contact Group on settlement the Ukrainian crisis, 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 Donbass. 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.
On Friday, October 2, leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine held talks in Paris in the so-called Normandy format. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov 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 that the Minsk peace deal has no alternative.