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Pro-Russian Rebels In Ukraine Say Weapons Pullback Complete

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine claim to have completed an agreed withdrawal of heavy weapons in line with recent cease-fire deals.

Self-declared rebel military representative Eduard Basurin said March 7 would be the final day of the withdrawal.

The claim was repeated by Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. He said the rebels had fully removed heavy weapons from the line of contact but said the Ukrainian side had not yet done so.

Meantime, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said government forces were continuing to withdraw heavy weapons from the line of contact but were ready to return them to combat positions at any moment.

Reports from Donetsk suggested that artillery barrages were continuing, however, around the time the pro-Russian forces said heavy weapons had been removed.

In cease-fire accords in September and February, the two sides agreed to form a buffer zone from 50 to 140 kilometers, depending on the range of the weapons.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS