STANYTSA LUHANSKA, Ukraine Oct 9 Ukraine's
military on Sunday postponed a planned parallel withdrawal with
pro-Russian separatists from Stanytsa Luhanska, a town on the
eastern frontline, saying rebels had disregarded the agreement
by firing artillery at Ukrainian positions.
In September, the two sides agreed a pilot de-escalation
project in three small towns - part of a push to revive a
much-violated ceasefire and end a conflict that has killed over
9,600 since early 2014.
"The separation of forces and equipment which was planned
for today was postponed," said General Borys Kremenetsky,
Ukraine's representative to the ceasefire coordination centre.
"The main reason is the continuation of shelling along the
line of separation. I would say there has been an increase over
the last few days and use of heavy artillery," he told
The delay is yet another setback for the struggling peace
process. Both sides accuse the other of violating the
18-month-old 'Minsk' ceasefire agreement on a near-daily basis.
On Sunday, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said
rebels had used heavy artillery in a "major" attack in part of
the Luhansk region. Meanwhile separatist officials accused
Ukrainian troops of firing at a rebel-held residential district
in southern Donetsk region, separatist news site DAN reported.
Nevertheless, both sides have said they have withdrawn from
Petrovske in Donetsk region and Zolote in Luhansk region - the
other two areas listed in the latest de-escalation pact.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE), which monitors the implementation of the ceasefire, said
on Saturday its monitors had witnessed the movement of troops
and equipment out of the Petrovske area, but could not yet
confirm if a full withdrawal had taken place there.
While limited in geographic scope - the areas are each four
kilometres squared - the disengagement agreement is the first
time the sides have said they would withdraw light arms.
High-calibre weapons are already meant to have been withdrawn to
secure holding areas, although the OSCE regularly reports
violations on both sides.
In Stanytsa Luhanska, locals appeared sceptical of the
success of the withdrawal plan.
"I think the majority disagree with it. We don't believe
them, because it always happened that when they had to observe
the truce they never did. Why do you think they will respect the
demilitarized zone?," resident Galina told Reuters, declining to
give her last name.
(Reporting by Sergei Karazy; Writing by Alessandra Prentice,
editing by David Evans)