LUGANSK, March 5. /TASS/. The Ukrainian side is seeking to dodge the withdrawal of weapons and forces near Stanista Luganskaya planned for March 7, Vladislav Deinego, the chief negotiator for the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) at the Minsk peace talks, said on Sunday.
"Regrettably, we have received no clear answer from the Ukrainian side, although we have received via the Contact Group secretariat the copy of a Ukrainian foreign ministry’s note where, in a veiled form, it said it is not going to carry out weapons withdrawal at this section," LuganskInformCenter quoted him as saying.
According to Deinego, Kiev motivates its refusal to pull out weapons by ungrounded accusations that LPR militias continue to shell Ukrainian positions. "We have next to no hop that weapons withdrawal will be carried out on March 7. Nevertheless, we are ready to implement our labilities," he stressed, adding that LPR’s representatives have notified the OSCE Special Monitoring Missions (SMM) about the republic’s preparedness for weapons withdrawal.
"Ukraine has actually refused to pull out weapons and forces but I hope international organizations will support us on that matter and we will be able to withdraw weapons at this section and stabilize the situation around the only checkpoint in the LPR’s territory," he said.
On September 21, 2016, the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine reached a framework agreement on disengagement of forces in Donbass. The Contact Group agreed on the principles and a timeframe for disengaging forces of Kiev and militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
Under the agreement, security zones are to be created at three sections of the line of contact, namely near Petrovskoye (DPR), Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya (both in the LPR). The agreement envisages withdrawal of armed forces from the line of contact to create security zones at least two kilometers wide and two kilometers deep.
The disengagement process has successfully been concluded near Zolotoye and Petrovskoye. By today, Stanitsa Luganskaya is the only site where disengagement has not taken place. The latest Contact Group meeting on March 1 yielded an agreement on the resumption of the process of weapons withdrawal from the contact line on March 7.
The Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements, known as Minsk-2, that was signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015, envisaged a ceasefire regime between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) starting from February 15, 2015 and a 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.