situation report

Ukraine: Paramilitary Group Says It Won't Participate in Mutual Troop Withdrawal

1 MIN READOct 7, 2019 | 17:07 GMT

What Happened: The so-called "Azov Battalion," a Ukrainian paramilitary group, has taken up positions in a village in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk region and will not withdraw ahead of a scheduled pullback of Ukrainian troops, the unit's leader said in an online video. Meanwhile, Kyiv has postponed the withdrawal from Oct. 7 to Oct. 9 as artillery fire at the contact line continues.

Why It Matters: The private militia's refusal to participate in the mutual troop withdrawal could stall efforts between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine. A bilateral pullback has been a prerequisite for resuming talks under the Normandy format.

Background: The Azov Battalion has been fighting alongside Ukrainian troops against Russian-backed separatists since 2014 and is known for its extremist orientation.

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