Interfax: Support for urgent heavy arms withdrawal from Donbas line of contact is crucial decision of Berlin meeting – Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

BERLIN. Jan 22 (Interfax) – Foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, the countries of the “Normandy format”, have supported the need to urgently withdraw heavy weapons from the line of engagement defined by the September 16, 2014 Minsk agreements, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“The most important decision that was adopted today was outlined in a joint statement approved at the end of this meeting – it is our strong support for the task of urgently withdrawing heavy weapons from the line of contact defined by the Minsk agreements, in particular, the Minsk memorandum dated September 19, 2014,” he said.

“This tentatively reached agreement concerning the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact determined on September 19 needs to take on a concrete shape and should start to be implemented,” the Russian minister said.

“If this happens, we will be able to speak about a significant de-escalation of the current conflict,” Lavrov said.

Militiamen in both the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics supported the heavy weapons withdrawal idea outlined in the Russian president’s initiative, Lavrov said.

“We hope, and we said it once again today, that the Ukrainian authorities will do the same, especially, as I have already said, after the ministers of France and Germany supported such an approach,” he said.

The German Foreign Ministry said on its Twitter account that progress had been made, but no breakthrough, and an agreement had been reached concerning a line of contact and a plan for weapons withdrawal.