Commander of the so-called Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in Donbass Vladimir Kravchenko stated that the Ukrainian side started preparations for the withdrawal of the army along the entire contact line in the east of the country. According to the JFO headquarters, he made this statement on Wednesday at a meeting with Permanent Representative of the United Nations Development Program in Ukraine Osnat Lubrani in Kiev.
At the meeting he reported on the situation in the Stanitsa Luganskaya area, where the disengagement had been carried out already, and reiterated that under the 2016 agreement it was planned to be done in two more areas — Zolotye and Petrovskoye, TASS reports.
"I am confident that it will be the next step after Stanitsa Luganskaya," the headquarters quoted Vladimir Kravchenko as saying. "Currently, preparatory activities for the withdrawal of the armed forces along the entire line of contact are underway. The chief of the Ukrainian General Staff, the Ukrainian defense minister and the head of state set this task. We are ready for it <...> and everything will depend on reciprocal actions from the opposite side."
Back in September 2016, the Trilateral Contact Group reached an agreement to create three security zones in Donbass. It was carried out rather quickly in the Zolotoye and Petrovskoye community areas, whereas disengagement near Stanitsa Luganskaya was repeatedly derailed through the fault of the Ukrainian side, which explained its refusals by the LPR’s alleged attacks.
The Ukrainian army ultimately returned to its positions both in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye some time later, and it all had to be started all over again. The agreement to withdraw forces in the Stanitsa Luganskaya area was reached this summer, following a change of power in Ukraine. Today the disengagement of forces and equipment in two other areas is to be discussed at a regular meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.