Donetsk militia withdrawing mortars voluntarily - the DNR defense ministry

The militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people's republic is withdrawing its mortars from the line of contact with the Ukrainian government forces

The militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people's republic (DNR) is withdrawing its mortars from the line of contact with the Ukrainian government forces voluntarily, says Eduard Basurin of the DNR defense ministry.

"The mortars will be pulled back today. The OSCE mission will be present during this," Basurin told Interfax. "I would like to emphasize that the withdrawal of these weapons was not envisioned by the agreements reached earlier and therefore is being carried out in line with the spirit rather than the letter of the Minsk agreements on a comprehensive ceasefire," Basurin said.

The withdrawal of 120-mm mortars is aimed at clearing the contact line of heavy weapons, he said.

The Ukrainian government forces are continuing to withdraw their heavy weapons from the line of contact with the militia in the eastern part of the country but are ready to return them to their combat positions at any moment, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the antiterrorist operation, said at a news briefing in Kyiv on Saturday.

"The third phase of the withdrawal of heavy military hardware by the Ukrainian armed forces is continuing. In line with the Minsk agreements, the withdrawal of the Uragan MLRs [multiple rocket launchers] to the sites prepared beforehand was started yesterday," Lysenko said.

Ukraine has already withdrawn 100-mm MT-12 Rapira and MT-12-R Ruta antitank cannons, 152-mm Akatsiya self-propelled artillery systems, and BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers, Lysenko said.

At the same time, if the enemy tries to launch an attack, the government forces are ready to start deploying their weapons larger than 100-mm in caliber back to the combat positions any minute, he said.


Read more: Technical talks under way on U.S. non-lethal arms supplies to Ukraine - Parubiy

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