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    Kremlin Says Kiev Rejected Artillery Withdrawal Plan, Resumed Shelling

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    Situation in Ukraine After Ceasefire Agreement (450)
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    Kiev rejected a heavy weaponry withdrawal plan proposed recently by Russian President Putin, meanwhile resuming hostilities in eastern Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman said.

    MOSCOW, January 18 (Sputnik) — Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan for the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from eastern Ukraine sent in a written message to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko late Thursday was rejected by Kiev without offering an alternative, Kremlin spokesperson said Sunday.

    "Russia has consistently made efforts to mediate the conflict in recent days. In particular, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a written message to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in which both sides of the conflict were offered a specific heavy weaponry withdrawal plan. The Ukrainian president received the letter on Friday morning," Dmitry Peskov said.

    "Unfortunately, the Ukrainian side rejected the proposed plan without providing a counter offer, meanwhile resuming military operations," Peskov said.

    The spokesperson reiterated Moscow's growing concern over the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine's southeast (Donbas), where "shelling of populated areas in Donetsk [has] resumed again".

    According to Peskov, there is an "absolute degradation" of the situation in the region.

    On Sunday, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Alexander Zakharchenko, said that the shelling in Donetsk, carried out over the weekend using Grad and Uragan missiles, was Kiev's attempt to "unleash a war" in Donbas once again.

    An armed conflict started in the region last spring, when Kiev launched a military operation against local independence supporters. Under the mediation of Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a ceasefire was reached between the two sides in September in Minsk.

    The Contact Group for Ukraine, comprising representatives from Russia, the OSCE, Kiev, DPR and LPR (Luhansk People's Republic) also agreed on a number of provisions, specifying the ceasefire at a later meeting in September. The provisions stipulated an all-for-all prisoner exchange and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the line of contact between the two conflicting sides in eastern Ukraine.

    Fighting continues in Donbas despite the Minsk agreements and both Kiev and the self-proclaimed people's republics have accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

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    Situation in Ukraine After Ceasefire Agreement (450)

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    hostilities, shelling, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin, Petro Poroshenko, Donetsk, Ukraine, Russia
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