The withdrawal of armored vehicles and weapons with calibers under 100mm began in Luhansk region on Monday, Interfax-Ukraine reports with reference to Ruslan Tkachuk, the press officer of the anti-terrorist operation in Donbas.
In their turn, pro-Russian separatists promise to withdraw their forces after October, 18 if ‘everything is quiet’.
“A message signaling the withdrawal of armored vehicles and armaments to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line was received by Ukrainian Armed Forces units stationed in Sector A in the morning of October 5. So, the synchronous withdrawal of T-64 and T-72 tanks from the frontline and, in some areas, of 85mm D-48 and D-44 anti-tank guns and 82mm 2B-9 mortars began in Luhansk region at 11 a.m. today. The entire action was coordinated with members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. Media representatives are at work,” Tkachuk’s report reads.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after the October 2 negotiations in Paris that Ukraine would start the withdrawal of weapons smaller than 100mm in caliber from the contact line in Donbas on October 3.
In total, 360 Ukrainian tanks and 1400 armored personnel carriers are involved in the conflict zone.
Leaders of the unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk republics also stated that the removal of weapons could mean ‘the end of the war’ with Ukraine.
“You see, it is dusty, it is hard to drive. But the fact that we are going home makes it easier, it’s all right,” a Ukrainian fighter says.
“We have been waiting for this for long, but now we see it come true. I hope this war will end and our citizens will no longer suffer,” another soldier says.
The withdrawal of weapons should be completed within 14 days.
Since April 2014, more than 8000 people were killed in the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists.