MINSK: Negotiators representing Kiev and Ukraine’s separatists said Saturday they have signed a deal to create a demilitarised zone in eastern Ukraine.
“We have signed a memorandum,” Kiev’s envoy, former president Leonid Kuchma, told reporters.
Under the nine-point document, Kuchma said both sides agreed to stop using all weapons and pull back heavy artillery to create a demilitarised zone.
“That will be an opportunity to create a ceasefire zone at least 30 kilometres wide,” Kuchma said after talks lasting seven hours that ended at 2:30 am local time.
The agreement marks the latest bid to bring peace to eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have clashed with Kiev’s troops since April.
A previous meeting earlier this month of the so-called “contact group,” which also includes Russian and OSCE representatives, yielded a vaguely-worded peace protocol which brought down the level of violence and civilian deaths but did not stop them completely.
Under Saturday’s deal, both sides agreed to stop using heavy weaponry in populated areas.
Warplanes and unmanned aircraft are also to stay away from the demilitarised zone, which would be monitored by the OSCE, Kuchma said.
The document further requires that “all foreign armed groups, military equipment, fighters and mercenaries” be removed from the zone, he added.
Igor Plotinitsky, the leader of the so-called Lugansk People’s Republic, said the memorandum should lead to the creation of “a zone of complete security”.
The touchy subject of what should be the status of the rebel areas in Donetsk and Lugansk regions was however not broached, he said.
“We have our opinion on it while Ukraine has its own,” said Alexander Zakharchenko, the separatist leader from Donetsk, when asked whether he would like to stay within Ukraine.