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Iran Press TV

Pro-Russians in Ukraine 'to withdraw certain armored vehicles'

Iran Press TV

Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:12PM

Self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine have expressed their readiness to withdraw armored vehicles with weapons that have calibers of less than 100 millimeters from the front line in the conflict-stricken region under the terms of the Minsk II peace agreement.

The decision was announced on Saturday in a joint statement by Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), and Vladislav Deinego, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR)'s representative to the trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine.

"To show our commitment to the Minsk agreements, we are ready to make the next step towards peace. For that, [we are ready] to pull back our units with tanks and armored vehicles equipped with weapons under 100mm caliber, to at least three kilometers (1.9 miles) from the front line," the statement read.

Ukraine's warring sides reached the Minsk II deal in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in February. The agreement introduced measures such as a ceasefire, the pullout of heavy weapons to create a buffer zone and constitutional reform in the country by the end of the year.

Zakharchenko said that the armaments would be pulled back along the entire front line except some areas north of Donetsk and the city of Debaltseve.

Deinego also said that the withdrawal of arms will not take place in the city of Shchastya in Luhansk until the Ukrainian side follows suit in other areas in the volatile region.

Meanwhile, Denis Pushilin, the DPR's representative to the Contact Group, told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Thursday that the "unilateral" pullback of armaments with calibers under 100 millimeters demonstrated the pro-Russia forces' "adherence to the peaceful way of resolution of this conflict."

The development comes as a meeting of the Contact Group, comprising representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), is due in Minsk on July 21.

Luhansk and Donetsk have witnessed deadly clashes between the pro-Russians and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to silence the pro-Russians there.

According to the latest figures released by the United Nations, the crisis in Ukraine has left 6,500 people dead and 16,000 others injured in the past year.

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