Authorities in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) say they have completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline in eastern Ukraine in compliance with the Minsk peace deal.
“We have completely withdrawn heavy artillery,” LPR Prime Minister Gennady Tsypkalov said, adding, “We submitted it all to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) observers: the information on the withdrawal, the locations of the weapons and the personnel. Pure formalities are left. The withdrawal has been completed.”
On Saturday, the pro-Russia forces in Donetsk announced withdrawal of 21 artillery groups.
Fresh Ukraine military casualties
Meanwhile, Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said on Monday that one Ukrainian serviceman has been killed and four others wounded in Ukraine’s volatile eastern territories in the past 24 hours.
Minsk ceasefire agreement
During peace talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11-12, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s frontlines and a ceasefire, which officially went into effect late on February 14. The warring sides, however, have continued to engage in sporadic clashes.
Origins of Ukraine conflict
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have been hit by deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia forces there.
In May 2014, the situation in the two flashpoint regions started to worsen as residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Ukraine in referendums.
The fighting has taken a heavy toll on thousands of people. More than 6,000 people have died in the conflict, the UN says. Around 1.5 million people have been also forced from their homes over the past months of turmoil.