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Iran Press TV

Pro-Russians remove heavy weapons from frontline in east Ukraine

Iran Press TV

Sun Mar 1, 2015 1:50PM

Pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine have announced that they have nearly completed the piecemeal pullback of heavy weapons from the frontline in the east of the country in compliance with a peace agreement signed last month.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said pro-Russians have pulled heavy weapons back from the area. Eighty percent of heavy weapons have been also relocated from nearby Lugansk.

Heavy weapons were withdrawn on Saturday in Donetsk, Torez, Dmitrovka, Pervomaisk, Bezymennoye, and Samoylovka, DPR spokesman Eduard Basurin said, adding, "During the whole withdrawal operation, the DNR militia has pulled out 21 artillery groups."

The pro-Russia forces in Lugansk also said they relocated most of their heavy arms, but will need a couple more days to complete the withdrawal.

"As of mid-day February 28, the corps of the people's militia has withdrawn 80 percent of heavy weapons from the demarcation line. By March 2 or 3, the process of the withdrawal of heavy weapons is planned to be completed. Of course, if there are no incidents," the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) said in a statement.

Fresh skirmishes

Meanwhile, two people have been killed by shelling in east Ukraine. Photographer Sergiy Nikolayev from Ukrainian daily Segodnya lost his life on Sunday after getting caught in fighting at a village close to Donetsk airport.

Right Sector – an organization fighting alongside Ukrainian government forces against the pro-Russia forces – also said one of its fighters had been killed in the assault.

The ceasefire deal

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.

Origins of crisis

The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine 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.

The fighting has taken a heavy toll on thousands of people. More than 5,800 people have died in the conflict, the UN says. Around 1.5 million people have been also forced from their homes over the past months of turmoil.

MP/HJL/SS



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