MOSCOW, March 5. /TASS/. A new ceasefire, coordinated by the participants of the Contact Group on Settlement in Ukraine, has come into effect in Donbass. The warring sides obliged to end the fire by midnight (Kiev time, 01:00 Moscow time) on Monday, March 5.
According to Russian Plenipotentiary Envoy in the Contact Group Boris Gryzlov, the conflicting sides confirmed "total adherence to a comprehensive, stable and termless ceasefire" at the negotiations. Apart from establishing the ceasefire, they stressed the importance of making and executing orders on ceasefire and an unconditional application of disciplinary measures against ceasefire violators. "A demand for the conflicting sides not to conduct any offensives or reconnaissance operations was stressed, and the prohibition of shooting both over and from communities, as well as deployment and usage of heavy weapons in communities and near them were mentioned," Gryzlov specified.
This is the 18th attempt to end hostilities along the contact line since the start of the conflict in Donbass. The ceasefire of 2016 was the most successful, when there was no shooting for six weeks, whereas the Harvest, School and New Year Ceasefires of 2017, which were proclaimed to be termless, did not have any considerable effect.
The disengagement of forces
Along with the introduction of a new ceasefire in Donbass, Ukraine’s troops and troops of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) are again trying to withdraw forces and weapons in the vicinity of Stanitsa Luganskaya. Spokesman for the LPR People’s Militia Andrey Marochko said on February 28 that the republic is ready to launch this process, but only if the Ukrainian side does the same.
A new disengagement attempt was determined at the recent meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk. Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the Trilateral Contact Group Martin Sajdik stressed that disengagement will be possible in case of full compliance with the ceasefire. According to LPR Permanent Representative at the Minsk negotiations Vladislav Deinego, the simultaneous implementation of the ceasefire agreements and the withdrawal of forces will show whether Kiev is ready for a peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict.
During the Contact Group meeting on September 21, 2016, the LPR and DPR representatives initialed the framework agreement on the disengagement of forces and weapons in Donbass that had been endorsed by representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document stipulates the establishment of safety zones in three areas: near Zolotoy, Stanitsa Luganskaya (LPR) and Petrovsky (DPR). The disengagement has been carried out only near Zolotoy and Petrovsky so far. The disengagement near Stanitsa Luganskaya was disrupted about 70 times by the Ukrainian side that explained its refusals by the LPR’s alleged shooting.
At the same time, the OSCE confirmed more than a dozen times compliance with a seven-day ceasefire period in the specified area by the warring sides, which is necessary for the start of the disengagement.