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Ukraine Contact Group to discuss elections in Donbas, pullback of heavy armaments

October 20, 2015, 9:41 UTC+3 MINSK

The self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk republics and the pro-Kiev armed units have been observing a ceasefire for a month

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© AP Photo/Max Black, archive

MINSK, October 20. /TASS/. The Contact Group in charge of settling the bloody armed civil conflict in eastern Ukraine has another meeting on Tuesday in what seems to be the most favorable situation in Donbas since the outbreak of hostilities there in spring 2014.

The self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk republics and the pro-Kiev armed units have been observing a ceasefire for a month and a half and a scheduled pullback of weapons with the caliber under 100 mm from the line of contact separating the two sides started on a regular basis at the beginning of this month.

The subgroup, which the Contact Group has placed in charge of political aspects of the problem, meets every week. Although the results of these meetings are kept confidential, analysts draw inspiration from the fact the acutest issue has been resolved, namely, the leaders of both self-proclaimed republics said after the summit in the Normandy Four format they were prepared to put off the regional elections until 2016.

One could see plainly at the end of the previous meeting in Minsk the sides would have to return to the pullback of heavy weapons.

Participants in the subgroup acknowledge the continuing presence of heavy armament at the line of contact on both sides, Martin Sajdik, the special envoy of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office said on October 6. This predestined a leading role, which the problem of the pullback and the drawing up of a framework document on the principles of mine-clearing in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions played at the previous meeting of the subgroup.

As regards the framework document on mine-clearing, participants in the meeting agrees to discuss its priority guidelines, Sajdik said.

In the meantime, the sides completed the first phase of the pullback of tanks, artillery and mortars from the line of contact in the so-called ‘northern sector’.

The second phase of the process is to begin on Tuesday. It covers the ‘southern sector’, which encompasses the entire Donetsk region. It will span 24 days.

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