Ukraine, Russia start work to set up 'buffer zone' in east

2014-09-26 14:41
File: AFP)

File: AFP)

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Kiev - Senior Ukrainian and Russian military officials met on Friday to mark out a proposed 30km "buffer zone" in eastern Ukraine from which government forces and separatists will remove weapons, Ukrainian military officials said.

The officials said a three-way group, which also included 76 Russian military officials and representatives of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), met north of the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Envoys from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE agreed at a meeting in the Belarussian capital of Minsk on 19 September to establish the buffer zone and remove artillery, heavy weapons and mines from the area to build on a ceasefire declared on 5 September.

"This group, in particular, will work on defining the lines of separation and defining the so-called buffer zone," Ukrainian military spokesperson Andriy Lysenko said.

"It will monitor the fulfilment of the [Minsk] agreements, separate the warring sides and guarantee this 30km zone," another military official, Vladyslav Selezyov, said.

Heavy battlefield losses

The meeting to create the "buffer zone" was the first real concrete follow-up to the ceasefire which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called three weeks ago after heavy battlefield losses, which Kiev ascribed to Russian military intervention on behalf of the separatists.

Moscow denies any direct military involvement in the conflict, in which more than 3 000 people have been killed, or arming the separatists despite what Kiev and the West say is conclusive evidence.

The Minsk memorandum foresees the warring sides each pulling out large-calibre artillery and other heavy weapons, and removing mines, to create a "buffer zone" that will put each out of striking range of the other.

A Ukrainian military statement said the zone would be divided into four or five security sectors which would be monitored by OSCE officials and by Ukraine and Russia.

An OSCE spokesperson in Kiev said there was no direct involvement by the OSCE yet, but added: "We will be willing to monitor discussions."

Read more on:    petro poroshenko  |  russia  |  ukraine

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