Rivals announce start of small arms withdrawal
Warring sides in Ukraine yesterday began withdrawing tanks and smaller weapons from a buffer zone in the war-torn east a day after the leaders of France and Germany met Vladimir Putin for peace talks.
The announcement of the beginning of the small-weapons withdrawal came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko voiced cautious optimism over the future of a peace deal but said the war was not over.
"There is a truce," he told reporters after more than four hours of talks in Paris.
"The war will be over when the last patch of Ukrainian land is liberated. As long as there is occupied territory the war is not over."
Both government forces and rebels from the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic yesterday said that the withdrawal of tanks and smaller weapons would begin imminently.
But their fellow rebels from the neighbouring Donetsk People's Republic said they would follow suit after October 18 if the ceasefire holds.
Moscow-backed rebels and government forces had this week agreed to withdraw tanks as well as light weapons from a buffer zone beginning Saturday to shore up the brittle ceasefire.
The pullback builds on a Western-backed peace deal agreed in the Belarussian capital Minsk in February.