“Yesterday, in implementation of the Minsk agreements, we began the withdrawal of some heavy weaponry from the separation line in Donbas… This is the very beginning of the Minsk plan implementation that was reached during difficult talks in Minsk and which is so far being violated by the enemy. That’s why, at any time and moment, our troops are ready to return the equipment to the previous lines and to retaliate in the shortest possible terms," Poroshenko said.
The president added that even with "the most positive scenario" of a longterm truce and political settlement, a military threat from the east "will remain current and require continuous efforts to strengthen the country's defense capability."
An armed conflict broke out in Ukraine's southeast last April, after Kiev launched a military operation against the region's pro-independence movement.
- The beginning of heavy weapons withdrawal in eastern Ukraine52.5% (509)
- Military deal between Russia and Cyprus31.8% (309)
- The approval of the Greek bailout extension8.3% (81)
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The deal failed to put an end to the fighting, however, a new truce agreement was signed in mid-February, again in Minsk, after weeks of intensified clashes and heavy civilian losses.
According to the Minsk agreements, the sides are to withdraw their heavy weaponry from the line of contact. On Thursday, Poroshenko gave an order to begin the pullback, while militia in Ukraine's eastern breakaway region of Donetsk said the same day it already had withdrawn 90 percent of its artillery.