Ukraine goverment, militias reach agreement to withdraw tanks from frontline

The office of the chief Ukrainian representative in the Contact Group confirmed that a Ukrainian initiative for the mutual withdrawal of tanks from the frontline was raised during a Skype conference on Wednesday between the Contact Group and representatives of some districts in Donetsk and Lugansk regions

The office of the chief Ukrainian representative in the Contact Group confirmed that a Ukrainian initiative for the mutual withdrawal of tanks from the frontline was raised during a Skype conference on Wednesday between the Contact Group and representatives of some districts in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

The purpose of the initiative is to launch "a sustained and synchronized process," Darya Olifer, spokeswoman for ex-president Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine's representative in the Contact Group, told Interfax.

"This matter is being discussed with all interested parties. It should be noted that it is a Ukrainian initiative, it follows up on and supplements the Minsk agreements reached on February 12," she said.

During a visit to Kharkov, Ukraine, on March 26, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine stood ready to withdraw its tanks from the frontline in order to prevent them from being used for firing at militia positions.

"Today the situation is essentially different from what had been in place before the 15th [February 15, the day the ceasefire took effect; the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline began on February 24]. At that time we didn't even take any account of small-arms attacks. Today we take everything into account. Today we can say that more than half of those attacks are small-arms fire, the rest are mortar attacks," Poroshenko said.

The Contact Group representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic had said earlier that an agreement to remove tanks from the frontline had been drafted by the Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring.

"The Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring has prepared a document on the withdrawal of tanks with large-caliber guns. There are no objections to this on either side. It needs to be organized and approved, and it is the next move that is considered to be important for the de-escalation of the conflict," the Donetsk News Agency quoted Pushilin as saying.

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