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DONETSK, February 20. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) plans to begin withdrawal of its weapons from the line of engagement on Tuesday, February 21, a spokesman for the DPR’s operations command said on Monday.
"Weapons withdrawal will provisionally take place tomorrow, on February 21," the spokesman said. "We planned to do it today but postponed the withdrawal due to the lack of confirmation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that the Ukrainian side is doing the same."
Earlier in the day, the spokesman told the Donetsk News Agency that the DPR expects the OSCE to confirm that Ukrainian troops are withdrawing their weapons from the contact line. In the meantime, a spokesman for Kiev’s force operation in eastern Ukraine said on Monday the Ukrainian army had already pulled out their weapons.
The situation along the line of contact in Donbass deteriorated dramatically in late January. There are casualties among the civilian population due to the incessant shelling by the Ukrainian armed forces, many dwelling houses and infrastructure facilities have been damaged.
On February 1, the Contact Group on the settlement in eastern Ukraine demanded at a meeting in Minsk an end to hostilities in Donbass and withdrawal of all weapons and equipment along the entire contact line to storage sites by February 5. However, neither of the statement’s provisions was implemented, with the sides accusing each other of breaking down the agreements. On February 15, the Contact Group at its next meeting in Minsk reached an agreement to withdraw all weapons and equipment along the entire contact line to storage sites by February 20. This agreement was confirmed by the foreign ministers of the Normandy Four states (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) at their meeting in Munich on February 18.