Rebels claim all weapons withdrawn from Ukraine

2015-03-01 21:56
A woman walks past shop windows protected from possible shelling with wooden boards in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Vadim Ghirda, AP)

A woman walks past shop windows protected from possible shelling with wooden boards in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Vadim Ghirda, AP)

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Kiev - Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine on Sunday claimed to have withdrawn all heavy weaponry from the front lines in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, thereby fulfilling one of the key conditions of a peace deal hammered out in Minsk last month.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), charged with monitoring weapons withdrawal on both sides, has not confirmed the move, which comes one day ahead of the 2 March withdrawal deadline agreed in the Belarussian capital.

Alexander Hug, deputy head of the 450-strong OSCE mission in Ukraine, expressed on Saturday "cautious optimism" about the ceasefire.

"We are currently seeing that the first step, the ceasefire, is largely holding along much of the 500km front line," said Hug, whose mission is monitoring a 50 000km² conflict zone.

"We're seeing that both parties are taking steps to remove heavy weaponry from the front."

The government in Kiev said that the ceasefire was largely holding in the restive Donbas region and that no shots had been fired overnight to Sunday.

It noted that pro-Russian rebels had fired shots at Ukrainian military positions on Saturday, a claim which the rebels dismissed as a response to "provocation."

Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine

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