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Russian negotiator urges Kiev to resume disengagement in East Ukraine

MINSK, July 3. /TASS/. Russia’s envoy to the Contact Group on eastern Ukrainian settlement, Boris Gryzlov, urged Kiev to resume the withdrawal of equipment and personnel near Petrovskoye (in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR) and Zolotoye (in the Lugansk People’s Republic, or LPR).

"Kiev should resume the pullback of personnel and equipment in Petrovskoye and Zolotoye," he said after Tuesday’s session of the Contact Group in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

According to the official, "there is a possibility to conduct prompt disengagement of forces in the Petrovskoye and Zolotoye areas."

"This can be done fairly quickly, because the terms and parameters of disengagement in those areas were agreed upon back in 2016. Moreover, the disengagement in Petrovskoye and Zolotoye had already taken place, but the armed forces of Ukraine returned to their previous positions later. Apart from measures in Petrovskoye and Zolotoye, the dialogue between Kiev and Donbass about next disengagement zones should continue," he said.

Gryzlov called upon the sides of the conflict to strictly observe the disengagement agreements.

"Simultaneously, we need to continue easing tensions and increasing the level of security in other areas of Donbass," he said.

The Russian envoy also said that the Contact Group confirmed the start of disengagement process in Stanitsa Luganskaya (LPR).

A framework agreement on disengagement of forces in Donbass was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk in September 2016.

Under the agreement, security zones are to be created at three sections of the line of contact, namely near Petrovskoye (in the Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR), Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya (both in the Lugansk People’s Republic, or LPR). The agreement envisages withdrawal of armed forces from the line of contact to create security zones at least one kilometer wide and one kilometer deep.

The disengagement process was completed near Zolotoye and Petrovskoye in October 2016. Ukrainian troops however returned their former positions some time later. Stanitsa Luganskaya remained the only site where disengagement had not taken place until June 30 as Ukraine refused to do it, citing as a reason alleged shelling of its positions by LPR’s forces. The OSCE SMM on June 30 confirmed the completion of disengagement of forces in Stanitsa Luganskaya.