The Contact Group seeking peace for east Ukraine reached an agreement on repairs of the bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya, where the parties to the Donbass conflict had disengaged forces in late June, Russian Plenipotentiary Representative Boris Gryzlov said on Wednesday after a regular round of talks in Minsk.

“At the previous meeting, the Contact Group approved a decision to rebuild the bridge near Stanitsa Luganskaya, one of the few locations to cross the contact line. Kiev and Donbass representatives were able to reach an agreement on joint efforts for bridge repairs, and today we talked about the ongoing preparations,” Gryzlov said.

Gryzlov emphasized that “both sides are participating in the preparations and that is, unconditionally, an encouraging precedent.” “I can add that Stanitsa Luganskaya is still the only location where the disengagement of forces did take place, and what is more, everyone views positively the outcome of the disengagement,” he stressed.

A framework agreement on disengagement of forces in Donbass was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) and the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk in September 2016.

Under the agreement, security zones are to be created at three sections of the line of contact, namely near Petrovskoye (in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR), Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya (both in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, or LPR). The agreement envisages withdrawal of armed forces from the line of contact to create security zones at least one kilometer wide and one kilometer deep.

The disengagement process was completed near Zolotoye and Petrovskoye in October 2016. Efforts to disengage forces near Stanitsa Luganskaya kept on failing under Ukraine’s former President Pyotr Poroshenko. Moreover, Ukrainian troops returned to their former positions in Petrovskoye and Zolotoye. The sides got back to the implementation of the 2016 agreement only after the presidential elections in Ukraine when Kiev formed a new delegation to the Contact Group. In late June 2019, the parties finally disengaged forces near Stanitsa Luganskaya.

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