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Militia to release all captives this Saturday, Kiev on September 8

Meanwhile, Donetsk sources said Ukrainian forces did not observe the ceasefire

KIEV, September 6 (Itar-Tass) - The militia in eastern Ukraine hold more than 200 Ukrainian servicemen in captivity, the head of the information centre of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, Andrei Lysenko, said on Saturday.

A special centre set up at the Security Service is to establish the exact number of captives, he said. The centre is set up to help free captives and find missing people.

The militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic will release all the captured Ukrainian soldiers this Saturday, September 6, and Kiev’s authorities pledge to release captives on Monday, September 8, the eastern region's Novorossia news agency cited the republic’s Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko as saying.

“Despite ceasefire violations by the Ukrainian military, the militia will release Ukrainian captives. It will happen already today, and the transfer of prisoners of war from the side of Kiev will be carried out on Monday,” he said.

Ukrainian forces observe the ceasefire in the east of the country, Lysenko said on Saturday.

All the units of the forces have strictly obeyed the supreme commander’s order and observed the ceasefire since 18:00 (19:00 Moscow time), September 5, he said.

The situation on the whole became calmer in the zone of the Kiev military operation after the ceasefire was declared, but some provocations from the militia side were reported overnight, he said.

The official said fire was opened on positions of Ukrainian troops ten times after 19:00, September 5. Nobody was hurt.

Meanwhile, Donetsk sources said Ukrainian forces did not observe the ceasefire, continuing shelling Donetsk and positions of the Donetsk Republic’s militia near Mariupol.

"None of truce agreements concluded with Poroshenko has been observed. Ukrainian forces continue artillery strikes on Donetsk and its suburbs and do not stop firing in Mariupol," co-chairman of the People’s Front of Novorossia political movement Konstantin Dolgov told Itar-Tass on Saturday.

The Defence Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic also reported on Saturday that Gorlovka was under mortar fire overnight. A coalmine was shelled in Makeyevka at about midnight. Fire was opened on the town of Yasinovataya, and Ukrainian troops also fired from armoured vehicle weapons at Donetsk airport.

“Now it is relatively calm in the city,” a defence ministry source said

The high-ranking source said “Kiev’s statements about a ceasefire were only statements. These are statements only on paper and in the air. In reality, it does not seem to be truth.”

The Donetsk and Lugansk republics’ forces observed the truce, he added.

"On Friday, the Donetsk Republic’s Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko, after the meeting of the contact group in Minsk, ordered by telephone to stop fire, and the ceasefire has been observed," the source said.

He also said that Ukrainian troops were seen redeploying in the Mariupol area.

Itar-Tass had no confirmation of the information from other sources.

An agreement on a truce between the conflict parties was reached in eastern Ukraine previously on June 20, but Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko cancelled the truce on June 30, saying it was unilateral. During the period, Kiev troops repeatedly fired from artillery guns and mortars at residential areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. They also used heavy weapons against militia forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 3 proposed a peace plan to settle the crisis in Ukraine. The plan called for stopping offensives by all forces in southeastern Ukraine, withdrawal of armed forces at a safe range from residential sites, international monitoring of ceasefire observance, no use of military aircraft against civilians, swap of all captives, opening humanitarian corridors and repair of the infrastructure.

An agreement on a ceasefire and a settlement plan was reached during the meeting of the contact group in Minsk on September 5 with the participation of representatives from Kiev, southeastern Ukrainian regions, the OSCE and Russia.