Forces To Withdraw From Eastern Ukraine Village In Step Toward 4-Way Summit

KYIV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists are scheduled to begin withdrawing troops from around a village in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on November 9, raising hopes that an end to the long, deadly conflict is moving closer.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on November 8 said the withdrawal is set to begin a noon local time.

Under a deal reached earlier this month to end the five-year conflict, the sides agreed to disengage their forces in Zolote and the nearby town of Petrivske as a confidence-building measure that could pave the way for a summit between Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany.

Kyiv has said the third such withdrawal -- from the village of Petrivske -- will mean that Ukraine has fulfilled its requirements for such a summit to take place.

The withdrawal of troops from Petrivske, originally set for October 9, was delayed after fighting there resumed.

The agreement to resume the four-way talks, known as the Normandy format, states that fighting must cease for seven days before the withdrawal process can begin.

No date has been set for the talks, which are to be mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ukrainian armed forces have been fighting the separatists eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people since April 2014.

Both sides have already withdrawn from Stanytsya Luhanska, a strategic crossing point in Luhansk region where a damaged bridge is being repaired over a river to ease pedestrian traffic in the clogged area.

“I welcome the completion of the withdrawal of forces and hardware from the disengagement area of Zolote and the start of demining activities,” Martin Sajdik, the OSCE’s special envoy in Ukraine, said on November 4.

“Encouraged by the progress in Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote, I urge the sides to do everything necessary for re-launching the process of disengagement in the area of Petrivske as soon as possible.” 

The OSCE has been monitoring the conflict, including the withdrawal of forces.

Source: Radio Free Europe