Ukrainian volunteer veterans have withdrawn their registered firearms from the village of Zolote-4 in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, after a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and communication with police. "As a result of a meeting with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and a conversation with police, volunteer veterans who are in Zolote-4 with legally possessed weapons have taken them away," Deputy Chief of the National Police Vadym Troyan has said, according to the police's press service.
According to him, only a group of military volunteers without weapons is now in the area that is being prepared for the withdrawal of troops and weapons in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) zone, namely in Zolote-4 and Katerynivka. "There are six National Police patrols in Zolote-4 and Katerynivka, as well as a national police station for work with citizens. As was decided by the JFO chiefs, the National Guard will be sent there to ensure public order and security. Citizens may feel safe," Troyan noted. He added that police officers and guardsmen would perform their regular duties, in particular, prevent illegal armed groups' subversive activity in the disengagement area. Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Kirill Timoshenko, in turn, said that veterans' weapons had been seized by Interior Ministry workers. "By the way, the weapons that allegedly 'were not there' yesterday have been seized by Interior Ministry officers today. They have been seized and taken out of Zolote," he wrote on Facebook on Sunday, October 27. As UNIAN reported earlier, Zelensky on Saturday, October 26, visited Zolote-4, where he met with military volunteers of the National Corps and veterans of the Azov regiment, who have been there since early October because they are against the disengagement of forces and weapons in the area. The volunteers and the president had some heated argument, and they told Zelensky they were not going to leave Zolote and would not allow the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops. Zelensky earlier announced an agreement on disengagement near Petrivske and Zolote was reached during a Trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk on October 1. Under the agreement, the two parties should pull back their troops and weapons one kilometer away from the contact line in Donbas. The disengagement was supposed to start after a seven-day ceasefire, but on October 7, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that the withdrawal of forces near Petrivske and Zolote had been postponed due to shelling by Russia-controlled illegal armed groups. Zelensky's Office said that the disengagement near Zolote in Luhansk region was impossible without a sustainable ceasefire and the process had been suspended.