No More Heavy Weapons on Either Side of Donbass Front Line - Ukraine Army
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has confirmed that pro-Russian rebels have pulled back a vast part of their heavy arms, adding most of the government forces' weapons have also been removed.
The withdrawal was part of a peace deal Kiev struck with representatives of self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic" in February. Brokered by the leaders of Germany, France, and Russia, the agreement included an obligation of both sides to lay down arms and pull back heavy weapons from their front line in Eastern Ukraine. It also envisages the establishment of a buffer zone ranging from 30 to 140 km (depending on the type of weaponry deployed).
Though there have been violations of the ceasefire, monitors say it is being largely observed.
Rebels argued to have withdrawn their weapons as early as Saturday, but President Poroshenko later dismissed their claims.
Now UNIAN quoted him as saying that they have removed "a significant amount" and also that Kiev forces have pulled back "the lion's share."
At the same time rebel commander Eduard Basurin, "defense minister" of the "Donetsk People's Republic", told Russian agency TASS most heavy weapons of Ukrainian forces have to be moved further from the front line, since their current deployment allows them to swiftly return to previous positions if needed.
This comes against the backdrop of planned "drills" that militants from the "People's Republic" begun Tuesday.
UN estimates suggest more than 6000 people have lost their lives in the Donbass conflict since early last spring.
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