Tue, 10 Dec 2019

Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists say they have completed a pullback of troops and weapons from a third frontline area in eastern Ukraine.

The move is one of a series of confidence-building measures that could pave the way for a four-way summit aimed at ending the conflict in Luhansk and Donetsk regions that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

Ukraine's military said its forces completed the withdrawal from the settlements of Petrivske and Bohdanivka in the Donetsk region at noon on November 11.

A total of 42 servicemen, three armored vehicles, and 48 small arms were moved 1 kilometer back, according to Oleksandr Shtupun, a Ukrainian military spokesman.

Mine clearance in the area is set to begin on November 12, after monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have confirmed the withdrawal of forces.

A representative of the separatists in the Luhansk region previously said they had fully withdrawn from the area.

The disengagement began on November 9 following a recent similar withdrawal in two others sections of the front line in the neighboring Luhansk region.

The mutual withdrawal of military forces from the three frontline areas stem from a breakthrough in talks between Kyiv and Moscow on October 1 that set preconditions for a face-to-face, four-way meeting to end the conflict.

Also on November 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed plans for holding a summit between Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to the Kremlin.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said there was a 'possibility that the summit could be held before the end of the year.'

Known as the Normandy format, the last four-way talks took place in October 2016.

With reporting by AP, UNIAN, Interfax, and TASS

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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