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Ukraine: Both sides agree to start heavy weapons withdrawal

February 22, 2015 | By

Ukraine: There are reports that the government and rebels in eastern Ukraine have agreed to start pulling back heavy weapons from the front battle-line. A Russian general involved in the process said work would start on Sunday but actual withdrawal is not expected to get under way until Tuesday.

Both sides have used devastating rocket systems during the conflict

Both sides have used devastating rocket systems during the conflict

The agreement between pro-Russian rebel leaders and Ukrainian forces is part of the terms of the Minsk ceasefire deal. The process will not be completed until at least 8 March, five days later than the deadline set in Minsk.

Ukrainian military spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko told a briefing that the withdrawal was to begin, but did not give further details.

Rebel spokesman Eduard Basurin said the pullback from both sides is to take place between Sunday and March 7, but he did not specify whether rebels had made any moves yet. There was no immediate confirmation that the withdrawal had begun.

The 12 February ceasefire signed in the Belarusian capital, and brokered by France and Germany, had looked in danger of collapsing during the week when the rebels captured the strategically important rail hub of Debaltseve.

Nearly 5,700 people have died and 1.5 million have fled their homes since fighting erupted last April in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to the UN.

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