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OSCE invites heads of DPR, LPR to Contact Group meeting in Minsk on January 16 — LPR envoy

The agenda will include withdrawal of artillery and multiple launch rocket systems from the disengagement line, prisoner exchanges, lifting economic blockade and special status for the region

LUHANSK, January 14. /TASS/. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has invited the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR) to a regular meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine in Minsk set for January 16, plenipotentiary representative of the LPR at the talks Vladislav Deinego said.

“We have been invited to the meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk due January 16,” Deinego told the Luhansk information center, the LPR’s official news agency.

“The question is who will be there. The heads of the LPR and DPR have been invited to the meeting. If they can go it means the LPR and DPR heads will be there. If they can’t, I and [DPR official representative at talks] Denis Pushilin will go,” he said.

Deinego said the meeting’s agenda will include the previous four points: withdrawal of artillery and multiple launch rocket systems from the disengagement line in Donbas, prisoner exchanges, lifting economic blockade from Donbass and enforcement of Ukraine’s law on a special status for the region.

Crisis in eastern Ukraine

Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine’s south-east on the border with Russia, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics, conducted since mid-April 2014, has left thousands of people dead, brought destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

The parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during talks mediated by the OSCE on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.

A memorandum was adopted on September 19, 2014 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9 last year. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics voiced the necessity to start withdrawal of heavy armaments, swap prisoners and demilitarize the region.

The LPR militia, while fulfilling the conditions of agreements, started on December 11 unilaterally withdrawing heavy artillery from the disengagement line. In particular, it withdrew the D-30 artillery systems and BM-21 multiple rocket launchers.

According to the Defense Ministry of the LPR, Kiev’s law enforcers have not started withdrawing heavy armaments.