- - Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mariupol, UKRAINE — Pro-Russian rebel forces and the Ukrainian government have signed an agreement to withdraw weapons under 100mm caliber from the contact line in East Ukraine. I have met with and spoken with Ukrainian military sources here in Mariupol and can confirm this is beginning to happen. This development effectively ends the armed portion of the conflict in East Ukraine between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists for the time being.

Military commanders were very guarded about these developments and have been restricting journalists from the local military facilities; however, “Weapons transfers below 100mm per the Minsk agreement are beginning. Where they will be positioned is yet to be assigned,” confirmed one Ukrainian military source.

The Ukrainian armed conflict has been subsiding ever since Russia deployed troops into Syria to support the Assad government and fight the Islamic State. Perhaps Moscow has decided to cool the conflict here in the Donbass region while ramping up in the Middle East. Two active conflicts may be too much for the Kremlin to handle at this point.

The city of Mariupol seems quiet and the visibility of active military operations has subsided. The people seem eager to get on with a normal semblance of life after a year of intense military pressure and occasional bombardment.

While at the Ukraine peace talks, a representative of the pro-Russian separatists said on Sept. 30 that an agreement signed with Kiev this week to withdraw more weapons could mean an end to the war with the Ukrainian government. This was reported on the separatist website, DAN.

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