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Ukrainian defense chiefs visit disengagement area in Zolotoye

On Monday, Ukraine's defense minister also visited another disengagement zone, near Stanitsa Luganskaya

KIEV, October 7. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Andrey Zagorodnyuk, together with Chief of General Staff Ruslan Khomchak, has visited the village of Zolotoye, one of the three disengagement zones in Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s press service said on Monday.

"The head of the defense agency met with local residents, volunteers and servicemen. The conversation focused on rebuilding infrastructure, repairing roads, as well as on medical and other services to residents of Zolotoye," the statement reads.

The minister also noted that the local population "generally supports the concept of disengagement and the current plans."

On Monday, Zagorodnyuk visited another disengagement zone near Stanitsa Luganskaya, where the pullback of troops has already taken place in line with the agreements reached in Minsk.

When asked about the possibility of scheduled withdrawal of forces in the areas of Petrovskoye and Zolotoye, the minister said the disengagement process would begin on the condition that the ceasefire period in the region lasts at least seven days.

Zagorodnyuk also said the Ukrainian forces would be withdrawn to positions from where they would be able to promptly return if the opposite side violates the agreement. Both sides would pull back their forces one kilometer away from the line of contact, he said.

During last week’s meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement, the sides agreed to withdraw troops from two zones out of the three previously agreed ones. OSCE Special Envoy Martin Sajdik said the process was to begin on October 7. Nevertheless, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristayko reported on Monday that the Ukrainian armed forces will not start the disengagement in the Zolotoye and Petrovskoye areas until seven days pass since the moment of the last attack in this region, which occurred several days ago, he said.

Later that day, the top brass of the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced the disengagement was rescheduled for Wednesday, October 9. A source in Moscow close to the negotiation process gave the same date. "The disengagement agreements achieved on October 1 have begun to be implemented today. The practical phase is scheduled for October 9," he said.