No weapon exit till Russian rebels stand down

2015-02-23 20:33
TOY SOLDIER: A child holds a pro-Russia separatists' flag and a toy gun during a rally marking Defenders of the Fatherland day, a Soviet-era holiday, at Lenin square in Donetsk. (Vasily Maximov, AFP)

TOY SOLDIER: A child holds a pro-Russia separatists' flag and a toy gun during a rally marking Defenders of the Fatherland day, a Soviet-era holiday, at Lenin square in Donetsk. (Vasily Maximov, AFP)

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Kiev - Ukraine won't withdraw heavy weapons along the front line in the country's east as long as the Russia-backed separatists there continue hostilities, the Defence Ministry in Kiev said on Monday.

"As long as the rebels continue firing at [our] soldiers' positions, we cannot talk about withdrawing heavy weapons," ministry spokesperson Vladislav Selesnyov said in Kiev, according to local media reports.

Ukraine said earlier that the withdrawal would begin on Sunday, after agreeing to a new timetable with separatist leaders and Russian military officials.

However, Selesnyov argued on Monday that a ceasefire needs to be obeyed for at least 24 hours before the withdrawal can begin.

Ukraine's National Security Council said on Monday that two soldiers were killed and 10 injured in clashes during the past 24 hours. It also said that, while the intensity of the skirmishes had decreased, the separatists still attacked Ukrainian forces 27 times over the same period.

The separatists refuted the allegations.

Militia leader Eduard Basurin said that Ukraine had violated the ceasefire 29 times by firing upon separatist positions. He added that the separatists forwarded the information to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination, a liaison office set up between Russia, Ukraine and the separatists under mediation from the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE).

Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine

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