The pro-Russian militants and Armed Forces of Ukraine not only failed to decrease the number of the attacks in Donbas during 2017 but also shortened the distance of their locations that only strengthens the tense. Alexander Hug, the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM to Ukraine claimed this to DW.
'The distance between the locations changed in 2017. We saw in many places that they approached each other. Every time as the sides place their locations closer to each other we spot the increase of the tension that very often leads to the violence', he noted.
Hug emphasized that the OSCE SMM spotted the appearance of new fighting holes, especially during the calmer periods of time.
'The sides used this time, not for the disengagement of the forces or withdrawal of the weaponry but they prepared for the greater violence, digging the fighting holes and replacing their locations forward, holding the heavy arms in the places where it should be', Hug noted.
According to him, the observers recorded more than 4, 000 items of the heavy weaponry in the inappropriate places according to the Minsk Agreements in 2017.
Hug thinks that the situation in Donbas remains to be unpredictable and changeable.
'The key reasons of the violence were not properly worked out: the withdrawal of the heavy weaponry, the nearness of the locations of the pro-Russian militants and Armed Forces of Ukraine and bigger amount of mines from both sides along the demarcation line', he said.
Hug noted that the ceasefire should be a possibility for the sides to withdraw the heavy weaponry and disengage the forces. And it should take place as the mirror image.
Since midnight on December 23, a new, pre-holiday, armistice came into force. The parties agreed on it during the meeting of the Tripartite Contact Group in Minsk on December 20. At the same time, the sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreements. Later it was reported that the militants continue to violate the truce, firing Ukrainian positions.