Light weaponry to be withdrawn from eastern Ukraine

Leaders of Normandy four; Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany announce Ukrainian forces and rebels to start withdrawing light weapons from eastern Ukraine after Paris meeting

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) ride tanks as they withdraw them further from the frontline outside Luhansk, Ukraine, October 3, 2015

Updated Oct 4, 2015

After a meeting in Paris on Friday, Ukrainian, Russian, German and French leaders announced light weapons between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists are hoped to back away from conflict areas in east Ukraine later on Saturday.

For the first time, Russian President Vladimir Putin came face to face with Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, France's Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel after they agreed on the Minsk peace deal for Ukraine in February.

Hollande and Merkel satisfied the Normandy four meeting, which lasted nearly five hours,and ended with a positive view. It included the period of local elections in the Russian-backed held areas and the pullback of heavy weapons in east of Ukraine.

French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a meeting in Paris, France, October 2, 2015

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that after the talks “it has not become easier, but I would like to inform you that the talks were far less confrontational than they were last time.”

Following the meeting, Mr Poroshenko clarified the withdrawal would involve not just light weapons but also artillery pieces, tanks and mortars.

"Firstly, less than 100mm (4in) calibre weapons should be taken out in progress of time until 41 days," Ukraine said, according to the BBC News.

Detailing local elections in the Russian-backed separatist held regions, the French leader Hollande underlined that they must be held based on Ukrainian constitution, as planned in the Minsk peace deal. He also said that they should occur less than 80 days after Kiev gets an electoral law.

However, they stated before the Paris meeting that they insisted on proceeding local elections on their conditions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin guaranteed that the issue of local elections in east of Ukraine would be conferred with Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk.

“The only thing the president could promise was to give an order to discuss these issues with DNR and LNR representatives. The dialogue will continue. There will be a meeting of foreign ministers in November, besides the contacts between the presidential aids on foreign affairs take place on almost a daily basis,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday, following the summit.

Up to 8,000 people have been killed since April 2014, the beginning of the conflict and a month before Russia annexed the southern Crimean peninsula.

Meanwhile, Kiev and the West accused the Russian Federation of arming the separatists and sending troops into eastern Ukraine. But Russia rejected those claims, supporting Russian separatists in east Ukraine with Russian soldiers and heavy weapons as Moscow accepts some Russian are fighting together with rebels against Ukrainian forces in part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The West has imposed sanctions against Russian officials and top allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

TRTWorld and agencies