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MOSCOW, November 24. /TASS/. The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continues to concentrate military equipment and personnel at the line of contact in the Donbas region in the country’s southeast, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Militia Corps of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Yashchenko said on Tuesday.
"Our reconnaissance units continue to fix the facts of concentration of military equipment and personnel of the Ukrainian army near the contact line. According to available information, about 2,000 troops of the Ukrainian army and fighters from the nationalist battalions are currently stationed in the area of Trekhizbenka," the Luhansk Inform Center quoted him as saying.
The build-up of the Ukrainian military forces, according to Yashchenko, is also observed in the areas of Shchastye, Popasnaya and Luhanskaya settlements. "The build-up of military equipment and troops is linked not only to the possible future resumption of the active phase of hostilities, but also with Kiev’s desire to withdraw the largest possible number of troops away from the Ukrainian capital. It is no secret that many units of the Ukrainian army are dissatisfied with Kiev’s actions and policies," said the representative of the LPR Defense Ministry.
The LPR People's Militia reported previously that the Ukrainian command was building up its troops grouping, seeking to aggravate the situation in the region. In particular, according to the LPR reconnaissance units, the Azov battalion has arrived in Luhanskaya. In addition, about 160 pieces of military equipment, as well as two combat helicopters have been spotted on the south-eastern outskirts of the city of Svatovo in the Luhansk region.
According to the agreement reached at peace talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk, a complete ceasefire was declared on the contact line in Ukraine’s Donbas region starting from September 1, however, the Ukrainian forces have systematically violated it. In particular, they regularly shell the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka. The DPR Defense Ministry said previously that the situation in the republic has recently worsened. The number of shelling attacks on the northern and western outskirts of Donetsk and on the city suburbs has dramatically increased over the past month.
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 fulfill 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 Luhansk 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 organized in Minsk. The supplement envisages withdrawal of tanks, artillery weapons of less than 100mm caliber, 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.
On 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.
On November 6, the Normandy Four foreign ministers agreed that humanitarian situation in Donbas is not improving, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his counterparts from Germany, France and Ukraine in the Normandy format.