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Kiev Starts Pulling Back Heavy Weapons From East Ukraine

The country's defense ministry released a statement saying they would be withdrawing artillery from the front line of the conflict with pro-Russian rebels.

Posted on February 26, 2015, at 10:29 a.m. ET

Ukraine's defense ministry has released a statement saying they are withdrawing weapons from the front line of the conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country, in accordance with this month's Minsk cease-fire agreement.

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride armoured personnel carriers as they pull back from the Debaltseve region, Feb. 26.
Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride armoured personnel carriers as they pull back from the Debaltseve region, Feb. 26.

The statement read:

Ukraine starts to withdraw 100 mm guns from the demarcation line to implement the Minsk agreements dd February 12. This first step will be realized under the OSCE monitoring and verification.

The Ukrainian party requires from all the signatories the complete ceasefire and accomplishment of Minsk agreements. In case of offensive attempts, the schedule of heavy weapons withdrawal will be corrected. The Ukrainian troops are ready to defend the state.

The military showed journalists seven or eight guns being removed from the frontline at the village of Paraskoviyka, and earlier reporters had seen a convoy of around 30–40 Ukrainian vehicles towing guns away, Reuters reported.

The move is the strongest step Ukraine has taken to acknowledging the cease-fire was holding, after losing the key town of Debaltseve at the hands of rebels who initially ignored the agreement, Reuters said.

The withdrawal of artillery marked point two of the cease-fire agreement, with the observance of the cease-fire being point one.

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