General Staff: Ukraine begins withdrawal of heavy weapons
Ukraine is beginning the withdrawal of 100mm caliber artillery systems from the demarcation line under the agreements reached in Minsk on February 12, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
"This is the first step towards the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and it will be carried out exclusively under the monitoring and verification of the OSCE observers," the report says.
According to the General Staff, the Ukrainian side requires a complete ceasefire and the immediate implementation of the Minsk agreements by all its signatories.
"If the militants attempt to attack, the schedule for the withdrawal of heavy weapons will be adjusted. The Ukrainian armed forces are in full readiness to defend the country," the report reads.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on February 12, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande held talks in Minsk to resolve the conflict in the Donbas.
Following the talks, the parties approved a package of measures aimed at the implementation of the Minsk agreements of September. In addition, the leaders of Ukraine, France, Germany and the Russian Federation adopted a declaration in support of these measures.
In addition to other provisions of the new agreements reached by the "Normandy Four" leaders on Thursday, February 12, the parties agreed on the withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both parties at equal distances in order to create at least a 50 kilometer security zone for 100mm or larger caliber artillery systems, a 70 kilometer security zone for Grad multiple rocket launcher systems and a 140 kilometer security zone for the Tornado-S, Uragan, and Smerch multiple rocket launcher systems and Tochka (Tochka-U) tactical missile systems:
- for the Ukrainian troops: [withdrawal] from the actual contact line;
- for the military units of individual areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: [withdrawal] from the contact line in accordance with the Minsk memorandum of September 19, 2014.