Ukraine Rebels Start Artillery Pullback Under Peace Deal

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they have started to withdraw their heavy artillery from front-line positions as required by a peace plan aimed at ending five months of conflict with Kyiv.

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko told Russia’s Interfax news agency Tuesday that the pullback was in response to a similar move by Ukrainian forces. He added, however, that the withdrawal will only take place in areas where Ukrainian units have done the same, but not in areas where they still remain.

On Monday, Ukrainian officials said they started to pull troops and heavy weapons from the front lines under the terms of the deal that calls for the creation of a 30-kilometer buffer zone.

Despite the signing of the cease-fire on September 5, shelling and gunfire have been almost continuous in and around the flashpoint region of Donetsk.

Ukraine will be high on the agenda this week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be in attendance.  Instead, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent Moscow at the annual meeting.

Kremlin officials say Putin will attend the G20 summit in Australia in November, where the Ukraine upheaval will undoubtedly be a main topic of discussion.

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