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Heavy Arms Pullout in East Ukraine Lacks Transparency - Merkel

© AP Photo / Sergei GritsSoldiers from the Ukrainian army ride on tanks in the port city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine
Soldiers from the Ukrainian army ride on tanks in the port city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine - Sputnik International
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German Chancellor Merkel said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk that there was not enough transparency in the withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine.

BERLIN (Sputnik) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized on Wednesday the lack of transparency in observing the withdrawal of heavy arms from the line of contact in southeast Ukraine as envisioned in the peace deal reached in Minsk, Belarus.

Kiev and the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics signed a ceasefire agreement in the Belarusian capital on February 12.

"There is not enough transparency in the withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine," Merkel said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is in Germany on a two-day working visit.

A Grad multiple rocket launcher system of the Ukrainian armed forces is seen near Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine - Sputnik International
Kiev Completes Heavy Artillery Pullout - Special Operations Spokesman
The 13-point plan, brokered by the Normandy Quartet of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, also envisioned prisoner exchange, as well as granting special status to the breakaway republics.

On March 18, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said that Kiev had completed the pullout of heavy artillery, echoing an earlier statement by President Petro Poroshenko.

Earlier in March, the independence forces in eastern Ukraine said that they had completed their part of withdrawal by the end of February, meeting the requirements of the new Minsk peace deal.

According to international monitors in the region, the truce is generally holding, though government forces and the pro-independence forces have repeatedly accused each other of carrying out sporadic attacks.

More than 6,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, according to UN figures.

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