Ukraine Live Day 592: Quiet On Front As Leaders Meet In Paris

October 2, 2015
Petro Poroshenko and Francois Hollande meet in Paris today. Photo: Reuters

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Normandy Quartet Talks ‘Brief’; Ukrainian Spokesman Says Russian Troops Rotating in Donbass, Heavy Armor Not Withdrawn to Russia

As we reported earlier,
“Normandy Quartet” talks were held today in Paris among Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Hollande at the Élysée palace

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President Putin separately at the Elysee Palace, according to

Poroshenko met with President Hollande and said that relations with France were “at their highest since independence,” Unian reported.

The Ukrainian and French leaders agreed to further coordinate their positions in the Normandy talks and to hold an investment forum in November. They also discussed UN Security Council reform.  Hollande accepted Poroshenko’s invitation to come to France.

Kremlin pool reporter Dmitry Smirnov said the Normandy Quartet meeting was brief.

Translation: According to unofficial information, the Normandy format [meeting] will be brief due to Merkel. She has to fly home at 6:00 pm. There are affairs more important than Ukraine?

Translation: Here’s how the Normandy format talks in Paris look: three on the street are explaining something to Poroshenko.

Here’s how Poroshenenko’s press secretary photographed the same meeting:

Translation: the Normandy format talks took place right out on the street.

Translation: Here’s how Merkel and Putin came out of the bilateral talks. Even Ushakov looks satisfied as well as the eternally gloomy Steinmeier.

Earlier this week, the Trilateral Group representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk” which is taking part in Minsk, signed an agreement to withdraw armor of 100 mm or less from the line of contact.

While there have not been reports of shelling along the front line in the Donbass in the last few days, there is concern that Russia is distracting from the conflict in Ukraine with its bombing of targets in Syria, and has not yet withdrawn heavy armor from Ukraine.

Contrary to reports by Dmytro Tymchuk, a Ukrainian military analyst and founder of Information Resistance, today that arm was being withdrawn in some places, Andrei Lysenko, presidential spokesman on the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) issues said armor remained and Russian troops are now rotating out of Ukraine and being replaced,

There is information that a rotation of Russian troops is under way, some of whom are leaving the occupied territories for the territory of the Russian Federation, and some of whom are being replaced. There is information that the fighters are continuing training, including tank and infantry divisions, and we have not observed any movements toward withdrawing armor from the territory of Donbass to the territory of Russia.

Asked to comment on reports from OSCE observers that Russian-backed separatists continue to accumulate armor in areas they control, Lysenko replied:

We do not comment on information OSCE representatives obtain from their own sources, it is official. We have information as well about other areas where the enemy’s vehicles and personnel are located. The only thing I can add is that the information which OSCE representatives and our intelligence report largely coincides and that helps us to understand the real situation in the occupied territories.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Quiet On Front As Leaders Meet In Paris

Ukraine’s President Poroshenko has arrived in Paris today for talks with President Putin, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande at the Élysée palace.

The talks, in the ‘Normandy Quartet’ format, are aimed at resolving the Ukrainian conflict but  the Russian military operation in Syria will likely figure prominently.

Reuters reports that Hollande and Putin held a one-on-one discussion on Syria earlier today after a “stern and frosty-faced” greeting in the Élysée courtyard. 

Ahead of the peace talks, the Ukrainian military reports quiet on the front line in the Donbass.

The ATO Press Centre claimed this morning that there had been no attacks throughout October 1, nor had there been any ceasefire violations by Russian-backed forces between midnight and 6 am today.

In turn, the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) reported no Ukrainian attacks over the last 24 hours this morning. 

Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Ukrainian General Staff, told Interfax-Ukraine today that, should the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) confirm adherence to the ceasefire for a period of 48 hours, Ukraine will begin withdrawing weaponry with a calibre of less than 100 mm.

We’re waiting for a signal from the OSCE SMM, which will determine the starting-point of the 48-hour count down,” he told the agency on Friday.

Selezniov stressed that Ukraine has finished preparatory work on the withdrawal of weapons with a caliber of less than 100mm.

“The first stage is Luhansk region, starting with tanks, the second phase is artillery with a caliber smaller than 100mm, and finally – mortars with caliber smaller than 120 mm,” he said.

Dmytro Tymchuk, a Ukrainian military analyst and founder of Information Resistance, claimed today that Russian-backed forces had partially withdrawn the hardware from some areas of the front.

According to Tymchuk, tanks were pulled back from positions east of Shirokino but mortars remain in place. Movements were also reported near Stanitsa Luganskaya, Schastye, Mayorsk, Krasny Luch and Makeyevka.

Meanwhile Eduard Basurin, spokesman for the DNR ‘defence ministry,’ told reporters today that Ukrainian Grad MLRS had been spotted only eight kilometres from the contact line near Gnutovo, north-east of Mariupol. Furthermore, he claimed, eight Ukrainian heavy artillery units were spotted only 500 metres from the front line to the south of Granitnoye.

Oleksandr Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, told journalists today that the threat of renewed violence remained.

UNIAN reports:

“Ukraine fulfills all of its obligations under the Minsk agreements. And we can say that in fact there was no fighting or shelling within a month – there are some cases, which are still keep the situation on the front line tense, but it is a common trend. And this is stated by both international observers and those who are on the front line. But we can’t be complacent, we can’t say that the danger has passed, we can’t say there is no threat that the hostilities resume,” Turchynov said.

“According to the analysis, which is conducted by the Ukrainian side, we see no withdrawal of the Russian armed forces, located both in the occupied territories and along our eastern border,” he said.

As of 15:00 local time, the Ukrainian military delegation to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination reports that the ceasefire has held today.

— Pierre Vaux