Rebels, Kiev Withdraw Heavy Weapons from Donetsk

Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists have claimed this Sunday that they pulled all heavy weaponry from Donetsk in East Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government also confirmed the army moved out of the city. Donetsk witnessed the most brutal front of the war that claimed over 6,000 lives between the two sides in the past year.

A deal struck between Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France in February demanded a complete withdrawal from Donetsk. The Donetsk People’s Republic asserted they fulfilled their portion of the Minsk agreement. Six international monitors watched the rebels tow “the arms to a disused brick factory serving as an arms depot” about 55 miles from Donetsk.

“Today is the last day of the weapons withdrawal,” explained Eduard Basurin, one of the rebel leaders. “They will be stored with the rest of the military hardware.”

Kiev announced that Saturday, March 7, was the first day in months the army did not lose any soldiers due to death or wounds in a 24-hour period. Unfortunately, it only lasted 24 hours. On Sunday, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko announced one soldier died and three more wounded in an attack.

“There is increased activity of sniper groups,” he reported. “The serviceman who was killed died at the hands of a sniper. Illegal armed groups are actively involved in combat training, gathering resources and rebuilding technical readiness.”

Monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) insisted the rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk “aren’t complying fully with the requirement to withdraw heavy weapons.” German government spokesman Steffab Seibert told the media the OSCE’s movements continue “to be limited by all parties.” Therefore, they can only report and verify movements in “limited or individual cases.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier agreed the OSCE needs to send at least 1,000 more monitors to East Ukraine.


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