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Contact Group agrees to stop military exercises at contact line in Ukraine from March 4

March 02, 16:53 UTC+3
The second decision of the negotiators was on stopping firing drills near the contact line
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OSCE special representative on Ukraine Martin Sajdik

OSCE special representative on Ukraine Martin Sajdik

© EPA/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

MINSK, March 2. /TASS/. Members of the Contact Group on the Ukrainian crisis settlement have agreed that the sides of the conflict in Ukraine’s south-eastern Donbass region will not conduct military exercises with live firing closer than 15 km from the contact line, OSCE special representative on Ukraine Martin Sajdik said on Wednesday.

The second decision of the Contact Group was on stopping firing drills near the contact line. It will apply to all weapons of all caliber and takes effect at midnight, Kiev time on March 4, the official said.

According to him, the implementation of this decision is an important step in the ceasefire process. Hopefully, this will help to lessen tensions, Sajdik said after the Contact Group talks.

Parties to Donbass conflict should map, fence off mine fields

The parties to the conflict in the Donbass region should map and fence off the mine fields until March 31, OSCE envoy went on to say.

"The security working group met for two days to discuss the issues of firing exercises and mine clearance. I am glad to inform you about the signing of [the documents] on these two decisions," he said.

According to Sajdik, the first agreement stipulates that "the Ukrainian armed forces and the militia will map and fence off the mine fields until March 31."

"These areas are in close proximity to the checkpoints, that is, the places of entry and exit of civilians and along the roads leading to these checkpoints," he said.

Sajdik also noted that "the parties had pledged to conduct information and explanatory work among the civilian population regarding mine threat and the related risks."

He added that the Joint Center for Ceasefire Control and Coordination would oversee this work.

The Contact Group signed the key package of measures for peaceful settlement in Donbass, known as Minsk-2, on February 12. Under the document, the sides are to withdraw heavy weapons from the contact line, namely artillery systems of 100 mm caliber or more to the distance of at least 50 km, multiple rocket launcher systems (MLRS) to the distance of 70 km and most powerful Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch MLRS, as well as tactical missile systems Tochka/Tochka U to the distance of 140 km. In late September 2015, a supplement to the Minsk-2 package was signed withdraw weapons under 100mm caliber to a distance of 15 kilometers for the line of engagement.

On January 13, the Trilateral Contact Group meeting in the Belarusian capital city Minsk agreed on yet another, the seventh, ceasefire in Donbass from 00:00 on January 14. However Ukrainian troops reportedly continue to violate ceasefire.

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