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KIEV, October 29. /TASS/. Ukrainian forces have started withdrawing artillery systems near Mariupol, the next stage is pulling out weapons from near Donetsk, press officer of the military operation in east Ukraine’s "M sector" (Mariupol direction) Danila Onipko told TASS on Thursday.
"The withdrawal of artillery systems of less than 100mm on the Mariupol direction has started," Onipko said adding that the process will most likely take several days. After that, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will verify the withdrawal.
The head of the DPR delegation at the peace talks, Denis Pushilin, told a meeting of the Committee for Public Support to Residents of Southeastern Ukraine that the signing of the agreement on pulling back weapons with caliber under 100 mm helped to consolidate the truce agreed by the parties to the Ukrainian conflict in late August, .
"The signing of this document gave a powerful impetus to fully consolidate the ceasefire," he said. "As a result, the number of artillery bombardments in the DPR has reduced dramatically recently."
On the other hand, Pushilin noted that "one could not say that they have stopped completely, there were some violations."
On October 28, the military operation’s headquarters announced the completion of artillery withdrawal on one of the three directions in the Donetsk Region. Weaponry was withdrawn on the Artemivsk direction. The headquarters also noted that the process of OSCE’s verification will be completed by November 2. After that, mortars of caliber under 100mm will be withdrawn on the Artemivsk direction, followed by the Mariupol and Donetsk direction.
On Wednesday, October 28, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) withdrew artillery of less than 100mm caliber from the contact line in Donbas.
The withdrawal will be completed in three stages - firstly, from the Debaltsevo direction, then from the southern direction and lastly from the contact line near Donetsk. DPR defense ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said that launching the new stage of withdrawing weaponry of less than 100mm caliber in DPR has been postponed from October 18 to October 21 due to regular violations of ceasefire regime by Ukrainian forces.
The supplement to the Package of measures on implementing the Minsk Agreements from 12 February 2015 was agreed upon on September 29 at the negotiations of the Contact Group in Minsk. The supplement envisages withdrawal of tanks, artillery weapons of less than 100mm caliber, and mortars of equal to or less than 120mm caliber 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 caliber 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.