Kiev, Rebels Continue Weapons Withdrawal

Kiev, Rebels Continue Weapons WithdrawalKiev, Rebels Continue Weapons Withdrawal

Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels drew back some heavy weapons from the front line in the east Friday in compliance with a cease-fire deal, although officials in Kiev accused rebels of falling short of requirements.

Separatist fighters moved rocket launchers to a location 70km back from the line of contact with Ukrainian forces as required by the peace agreement.

According to witnesses, four trucks carried Grad launchers from the rebel stronghold of Donetsk to a cement factory in a village near the Russian border, AP reported.

Ukrainian troops also pulled back anti-tank guns from the front line near the town of Artemivsk. The required withdrawal distance for weapons varies depending on their power and range.

The pullback of heavy weapons was supposed to have started over a week ago under a deal agreed by the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to end fighting in Ukraine that has killed nearly 5,800 people since April.

Ukrainian officials announced the start to the pullback of their weapons on Thursday.

Despite the two sides’ claims on holding up to their own end of the bargain, Ukraine on Friday reported the deaths of three servicemen in three days in east Ukraine, denting hopes a ceasefire will hold, and President Petro Poroshenko said Russia would pose a “military threat” even if the truce is solid.

“Even under the most optimistic scenario ... the military threat from the east would unfortunately remain,” Poroshenko said, referring indirectly to Russia in a televised speech.