Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels have begun the planned withdrawal of troops from a contested area in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian army announced the withdrawal from the area around the village Petriwske in the region Donetsk With. Because of the break of a seven-day ceasefire with shots fired by the rebels, the project, which had been planned for last Monday, was stopped.
It is another attempt at peace efforts between the conflicting parties. The withdrawal from Petriwske would be the last of a total of three retreats by government and rebel units. For the first time in the summer troops had begun to withdraw from a sector in the conflict region. Units from an area in the Luhansk region had withdrawn at the end of October.
The withdrawal is one of the conditions of Moscow for a first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Selenskyj. Such a meeting could take place in the so-called Normandie format involving Germany and France.
Since taking office in May, Selenskyj has sought to revive the peace process in eastern Ukraine. The conflict that has been ongoing since 2014 has already killed nearly 13,000 people. The withdrawal from the areas was agreed in an agreement of 2016 and will take place at the same time. Many Ukrainian nationalists as well as veterans who fought against the pro-Russian rebels are strictly against withdrawal.