NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the Alliance welcomes the latest effort toward disengagement of troops in Zolote, while stressing that Russia might withdraw its forces from Donbas.
During a joint press point in Odesa with Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Dmytro Kuleba, responding to a reporter's request to comment on whether the latest disengagement in Donbas is bilateral or unilateral – on the part of the Ukrainian forces – Stoltenberg said: "We welcome all efforts to reduce tensions, to withdraw forces, and to make sure that we have a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine," an UNIAN correspondent reports.
He noted "some progress" in Stanytsia Luhanska and said NATO welcomed "all efforts to follow that example."
"But we know there is a long way to go because there are still ceasefire violations and we also see that the OSCE monitors are not allowed to freely operate," Stoltenberg said, adding that the SMM's observation via drones is being hindered.
"But I welcome the renewed effort and renewed energy from President Zelensky to try to find a peaceful solution and NATO supports those efforts.
At the same time, Stoltenberg said "NATO also states very clearly that Russia has a special responsibility to implement the Minsk agreements.
"[T]hey must withdraw all their troops, all their officers from eastern Ukraine and stop destabilizing eastern Ukraine," Stoltenberg stressed.
As UNIAN reported earlier, at 12:00 on Oct 29, the process started of the disengagement of forces in the area of Zolote-4.
Troops and weapons must be withdrawn 1 km to the rear on both sides, while the whole process must be completed within 30 days.
The Joint Forces Operation Headquarters emphasized that Ukraine did not surrender any territories during disengagement, and that the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not leave a single settlement.
JF Commander Volodymyr Kravchenko said that in the event of any enemy provocation in Zolote, Ukrainian forces are ready to provide protection to civilians.