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Rival Ukraine forces withdrawing from key frontline area


AFP Kiev
The Ukrainian army and separatists said on Tuesday that they were starting to withdraw their troops from a key frontline area in the war-torn east.
"The process of troop withdrawal began by both sides... in the area of Zolote-4," Ukraine's army said on Facebook.
Vladislav Deinego, representative of the separatist self-proclaimed Lugansk republic, also said the troop pullback in the area had begun.
Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe confirmed the move.
"Today the sides have just resumed the withdrawal of troops and arms in Zolote," Martin Sajdik, an OSCE special representative, told journalists.
The pullback of troops is a top precondition for the first face-to-face talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, to be mediated by the leaders of France and Germany.
Since coming to power in May, comedian-turned-president Zelensky has sought to revive a peace process to end a five-year-old separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine that has claimed som 13,000 lives.
But those efforts have stalled as the Kiev forces and the Moscow-backed separatists have repeatedly failed to pull back troops from the frontline because of gunfire exchanges.
Zelensky's peace plan including the troop pullback has been strongly criticised by many in Kiev, especially war veterans and nationalists.
Various nationalist organisations even deployed their own troops to Zolote in an effort to prevent a retreat of Ukrainian troops.

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First Published: Oct 29 2019 | 8:30 PM IST

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