Moscow Urges Ukraine Conflict Sides to Pull Back Heavy Artillery Promptly

© AP Photo / Markiv Mykhailo / PoolUkrainian soldiers get new tanks and other military vehicles at a military base in the eastern town of Chuguyev, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
Ukrainian soldiers get new tanks and other military vehicles at a military base in the eastern town of Chuguyev, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 - Sputnik International
Ukraine should abstain from replacing the de-escalation process in the country's east with the foreign policy rhetoric, the Russian Foreign Ministry stresses.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R, front) and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk (L, front) take part in a peace march in tribute to the victims onboard a passenger bus, which came under fire near the town of Volnovakha, in Kiev, January 18, 2015. - Sputnik International
Poroshenko Vows to Regain Control Over Donbas Region in Eastern Ukraine
MOSCOW, January 19 (Sputnik) – Moscow has called on the opposing sides in the Ukrainian conflict not to miss the opportunity to pull back heavy artillery, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published Monday.

“We urgently call the [opposing] sides to use the opened actual opportunity to pull back fatal artillery from the conflict zone so as to alleviate the threat of future victims among civilians. This is currently the top priority,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“Taking this step will strengthen trust and create favorable conditions to fulfill other provisions in the Minsk agreements,” the ministry said.

Moscow called on Kiev to pull back its heavy artillery from the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine immediately.

Russia is ready to work with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to make sure Ukrainian forces and independence supporters observe the ceasefire agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin's message to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko read. - Sputnik International
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“If Kiev is actually and honestly ready to a mutual pull-back of heavy artillery along with the independence supporters [in eastern Ukraine] according to the parameters of such a pull-back that was installed in the Minsk Memorandum dated September 19, 2014, and confirmed in the working document dated November 13, 2014, then it is necessary to immediately move on to practical actions on the spot. Moreover, the leaders of the [self-proclaimed] Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics have already placed their signatures on the schedule that was agreed upon,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Moscow also urges Kiev not to replace professional work on de-escalation of situation in eastern Ukraine with the foreign policy rhetoric, Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“We strongly recommend the Ukrainian side not to replace professional work on de-escalation of the military situation in southeastern Ukraine with the foreign policy rhetoric,” the ministry said in a statement.

A woman looks at debris in front of a house, which according to locals, was recently damaged by shelling, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, January 17, 2015 - Sputnik International
Ukrainian Army Shells Three Neighbourhoods in Donetsk, DPR Reports
An internal crisis in eastern Ukraine erupted after a February 2014 coup, when an independence group from the southeast of the country refused to recognize the new government, and Kiev launched a special military operation to suppress local militia forces.

Following months of bloodshed, with mediation from Russia and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a ceasefire agreement was reached during the Contact Group on Ukrainian reconciliation meeting on September 5, 2014, with specific steps for a ceasefire implementation outlined on September 19, 2014.

Local resident Nikolai, 82, inspects his apartment, which according to locals, was recently destroyed by shelling, in Donetsk - Sputnik International
Kremlin Says Kiev Rejected Artillery Withdrawal Plan, Resumed Shelling
Despite the ceasefire, during the past months both sides have accused each other of repeatedly violating the truce.

Most recently, Kiev forces shelled populated areas in Donetsk and Luhansk over the weekend, according to independence supporters.

Moscow has condemned Kiev’s actions, urging the Ukrainian side to adhere to the Minsk agreements. The Russian Foreign Ministry added that Kiev appeared to be using the truce to regroup and strengthen their forces to continue the fight.

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