Ukrainian armed forces and representatives of the self-described Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) have agreed to a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons, according to a new report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The latest report by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine follows another announcement last month by SMM stating that Russia and the Ukrainian heads of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) had agreed on a draft schedule for gradual disengagement of forces along the line of contact in Donbas, in southeastern Ukraine.
“All agreed in principle to a total ceasefire along the entire line of contact between Ukrainian Armed Forces and those under control of the “LPR”, to be effective from 5 December… They also agreed that the withdrawal of heavy weapons would start on 6 December,” the SMM report said.
According to the report, the ceasefire agreement was reached after discussions on Saturday involving the head of the Ukrainian contingent to the JCCC, the head of the Russian representation in southeastern Ukraine and members of the LPR. The JCCC was set up by Ukraine, Russia and Didier Burkhalter, the top OSCE official in eastern Ukraine, in October to coordinate the execution of the ceasefire agreement in the country.
Last month, OSCE said in a report that the Russian and Ukrainian heads of the JCCC signed a draft schedule that proposed the disengagement of forces in three phases -- a ceasefire for two days, the withdrawal of heavy weapons for five days and disengagement of forces to the line of contact referred to in the Minsk Memorandum for 21 days.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine intensified in April, after Kiev launched a military operation against pro-Russian rebels in the country's southeastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. When the crisis escalated, the Ukrainian government requested the services of the SMM. Kiev and the West have accused Russia of interfering in the region by arming separatist forces in the country's east, helping the rebels form self-styled republics in a bid to secede from Ukraine. However, Moscow has consistently denied the accusations.
According to data released by the United Nations, about 4,300 people have been killed and almost 10,000 have been injured since the beginning of the armed conflict in Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported.