March 9, 2015 / 8:44 PM / 3 years ago

Ukraine's Poroshenko says rebels have withdrawn significant amount of heavy weapons

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday pro-Russian rebels had withdrawn a significant amount of weaponry from the front-lines in eastern Ukraine in accordance with a three-week-old ceasefire deal.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko talks to military staff in Kiev February 14, 2015. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Attacks have fallen significantly, but accusations of continued violence on both sides show the fragility of the peace accord agreed in Minsk last month, which calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline.

“There is a ceasefire, or there isn‘t. It depends on how you look at it. We can say that we managed to halt the offensive drive of the aggressor. Ukraine has withdrawn the lion’s share of its rocket and heavy artillery systems. The Russian-backed fighters have also withdrawn a significant amount,” Poroshenko said in a televised interview.

While the Minsk agreements have been broadly observed along the front lines in the past two weeks, Kiev has accused the rebels of continuing to fire on government positions and using the truce to regroup their forces and rearm for a further offensive, a charge the rebels deny.

Poroshenko said 64 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed since the ceasefire was meant to come into force on February 15. Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since the conflict between government troops and separatists erupted last April.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; editing by Ralph Boulton

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