French Foreign Minister announces signing of document to begin withdrawal of troops from eastern Ukraine

Next week an agreement may be signed on the withdrawal of troops from three pilot areas, as stated by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, at a joint briefing with the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, and the Foreign Minister of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"Turning to security issues, I want to say that next week there will be an important phase, which may at the same time give us both consolidation of these achievements and a certain hope, in particular, for holding a high-level summit. We are discussing an agreement that would begin the withdrawal of troops from three pilot areas," UNN quoted Ayrault as saying.

Jean-Marc Ayrault noted he hoped all parties would make efforts that would lead to the fulfillment of these security tasks.

He also added that the political conditions for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements require the Ukrainians to adopt laws related to local elections in the Donbas and provide a special status to the region.

According to the head of the French Foreign Ministry, this is the first stage and it is currently being implemented.

"The next stage of this continuous process is the Verkhovna Rada’s approval of the adopted laws on the elections and special status of the Donbas region. In addition, the expansion of the pilot areas for the withdrawal and control of heavy weapons, taking steps to ensure that the observers have access to the Donbas region, and the creation of advanced OSCE bases. All this, so to say, is the second stage," Interfax quoted Ayrault as saying.

"The third phase will be the approval by the Verkhovna Rada of the election date, completion of the constitutional reforms, adoption of amnesty laws, simultaneous withdrawal of troops across the front line, creation of new checkpoints, release of hostages, and the completion of troop withdrawal and full access to the border," the Minister concluded.

  Ukraine, Donbas, ATO, Minsk agreement