Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists agree on weapons withdrawal

Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists agree to extend agreement regarding weapon withdrawal distance in east Ukraine

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Pro-Russian rebels ride on a tank in the town of Krasnodon in eastern Ukraine on August 17

Pro-Russian separatists, Ukraine and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reached a deal on Tuesday to extend the agreement regarding the withdrawal distance of tanks and smaller weapon systems in eastern Ukraine.

"It concerns the withdrawal of tanks, mortars and artillery of less than 100 mm calibre to a distance of 15 km (9.3 miles). The first phase will start in two days," said the OSCE's representative at the peace talks, Martin Sajdik.

Sajdik said the Ukrainian ambassador, Leonid Kuchma signed the deal. However, separatist representative, Denis Pushilin said the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhanks People’s Republic would sign the deal by Thursday.

He said the withdrawal would begin after rebel leaders signed the deal and the pull-back of the weapons would take 39 days to complete. OSCE will observe the withdrawal of the weapons.

Foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met in Berlin on Sept. 12 to reach an agreement regarding the withdrawal of weapons, hoping that a deal could be signed within a few days, but the long-awaited deal talks lasted two weeks.

The deal had been agreed on in February, during the talks in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. The deal aimed at ending the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels. According to the ceasefire, which was just one of the parts of the February agreement, weapons of over 100 mm calibre had to be withdrawn from the frontlines. However, the ceasefire faced obstacles, because of violations from the both sides.

Since a new ceasefire agreement was signed, the violence in eastern Ukraine has ebbed to its lowest point in recent weeks. In eastern Ukraine, the conflict has cost more than 8,000 people their lives, since it began in April 2014.

Western diplomats say 12-point peace plan is far from fully achieved. In accordance with the peace plan, local elections will be held in the separatist regions in tandem with the rest of the country. However, Kiev declared that they would not take place due to security and monitoring concerns.

The pro-Russian separatists who have founded their own mini-republics arranged their own elections, but Kiev has stated that it would not recognise them.

TRTWorld and agencies