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Envoy says Donetsk Republic won’t agree to leave Debaltsevo

Pushilin said it was "premature" to discuss new sections for disengagement of troops and hardware along the line of contact in Donbass

DONETSK, October 20. /TASS/. The authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) won’t agree to leave the city of Debaltsevo as it would endanger the safety of its residents, DPR’s chief negotiator at the settlement talks in Minsk Denis Pushilin said on Thursday.

"As for the settlement itself, on which the Ukrainian side is trying to harp on on an all too regular basis, Debaltsevo is our city, and the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic will never make decisions that would harm its residents," the Donetsk News Agency quoted him as saying.

Pushilin said it was premature to discuss new sections for disengagement of troops and hardware along the line of contact in Donbass. He explained this by Ukraine’s blocking the withdrawal of forces at one of the pilot section - Luganskaya settlement. The envoy expressed hope that the Normandy Four summit on Wednesday will have a positive effect on the issue.

"I hope this meeting will have a positive effect on disengagement of forces and hardware at a third section - Luganskaya settlement - due to which the process of disengagement will end and an opportunity will emerge to discuss the four next sections," Pushilin said.

On Wednesday, following a summit in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reported that the Normandy Four leaders reached an agreement on establishment of four new zones of disengagement in Donbass, saying however that "much work is ahead".

In his turn, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said Ukraine insists on putting Debaltsevo on the list of these zones. He referred to the fact that as of the moment of signing of the Minsk Agreements, the territory was allegedly under control of the Ukrainian military.

The issue of withdrawal of forces from Debaltsevo in the Donbass conflict zone remains uncoordinated, work on the topic will be continued, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

"Regarding Debaltsevo, here it’s the situation when earlier reached agreements are interpreted in an absolutely different way," Peskov said.

"The Russian side absolutely disagrees" with proposals on the issue voiced by its interlocutors, the spokesman said.

"The issue remains uncoordinated, the work on the issue will be continued at the level of [foreign] ministers and aides," Peskov said.

On September 21, the participants of the Contact Group on settlement in eastern Ukraine signed a framework agreement on disengaging the warring parties 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.

The first stage envisages the creation of security zones in three areas - near Zolotoye, Luganskaya and Petrovskoye. The troops are withdrawn to create security zones "not less than 2 km in width and 2 km in depth." The entire process of disengaging forces and hardware, including the preparations for it, should last for no more than 30 days for each area. The document also says that the disengagement of forces may be conducted in other areas after consultations.