Weapons pullback completed in E Ukraine: Pro-Russians

Weapons pullback completed in E Ukraine: Pro-Russians

HomeEuropeMore Sat Mar 7, 2015 4:56PM

Pro-Russia forces say they have completely pulled back their heavy weapons from the frontline of conflict in eastern Ukraine as part of the Minsk ceasefire deal with Kiev.

“Today is the last day of the weapons withdrawal,” said Eduard Basurin (shown below), the Defense Ministry spokesman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), on Saturday.

He made the remark in the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, where the pro-Russia forces withdrew eight 120mm mortars under the supervision of six international monitors.

On Friday, Basurin called on the Ukrainian officials to remain committed to the Minsk truce deal and put an end to their provocative actions in eastern Ukraine.

“We call on the Ukrainian leaders to ensure unconditional implementation of the Minsk agreements and to secure real centralized control over all their armed groups that can undermine the peace process, which is moving on with such big difficulties, by their unsanctioned actions,” he stated.

DPR head confirms pullout

The DPR head, while accusing the government in Kiev of reneging on the ceasefire deal, also confirmed pro-Russians’ complete withdrawal of heavy artillery from the conflict zone.

“We have fully removed heavy weapons from the line of contact,” said Alexander Zakharchenko (pictured above), adding, “Ukraine has not yet done it.”

This is while earlier in the day, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said the European Union (EU) has received information that the two sides are pressing ahead with the weaponry pullout, but stressed that the process is still far from complete.

East Ukraine peace efforts

During peace talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11-12, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s frontlines and a ceasefire, which officially went into effect on February 14. The warring sides, however, have continued to engage in sporadic clashes. The two sides were supposed to withdraw all their heavy weaponry from the frontlines by March 1.

Source of conflict

Donetsk and Lugansk are two mainly Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine which have been hit by deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia protests there.

In May 2014, the situation in the two flashpoint regions started to worsen as residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Ukraine in referendums.

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