17:47 GMT19 January 2021
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    A new agreement on the withdrawal of banned weaponry from the contact line between conflicting sides in eastern Ukraine may be implemented only if the West pressures Kiev authorities to honor the deal, head of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    DONETSK (Sputnik) — Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, Martin Sajdik, said earlier on Wednesday that conflicting parties in Donbas reached an agreement on withdrawing the banned weapons from the contact line by February 20.

    "This deal is more relevant for Kiev…The agreement on the pullout of heavy weaponry by February 20 may be implemented only if the West — Germany, France and the United States — really apply pressure on [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko," Zakharchenko said.

    The breakout of hostilities in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

    In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Since then, the ceasefire regime has been regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.


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