Kiev says started withdrawing weapons from eastern Ukraine
Iran Press TV
Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:37PM
Kiev says it has started the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline of conflict in eastern Ukraine as part of the Minsk ceasefire deal with pro-Russia forces.
"Ukraine is today (Thursday) beginning the withdrawal of 100-mm cannons from the frontline," read a statement issued by the Ukrainian military.
"This is the first step in the pullback of heavy weapons and will be carried out exclusively under the supervision and verification of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)," the statement added.
Pro-Russia forces have announced that they have already begun pulling back their heavy weapons, including tanks and rocket launchers, from the conflict zone.
30 bodies of Ukrainian soldiers retrieved from Donetsk airport
Earlier in the day, the military officials of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk announced that 30 bodies of Ukrainian soldiers were retrieved from the rubble of the Donetsk airport building in eastern Ukraine.
Four other bodies were also discovered on Wednesday, the officials added.
"They will be taken to the morgue and work will begin to find their relatives," the military of the self-proclaimed republic stated.
The Donetsk airport was the scene of deadly clashes between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russia forces before the ceasefire deal was inked.
East Ukraine peace work
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.
Back in September 2014, the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk signed another ceasefire deal in Minsk, but the truce was violated on an almost daily basis by both the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russia forces, and thus failed to deliver any practical result.
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 in referendums for independence from Ukraine and joining Russia.
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