Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in Ukraine reports ‘a 45-percent increase in the number of ceasefire violations’ in war-torn Donbas over the last week. That was mentioned in the most recent speech of Alexander Hug, the Mission’s Deputy Head, released by the OSCE SMM’s press service.
‘Of note was the violence we recorded in the western suburbs on Donetsk city on 24 May. In just over an hour, our monitors recorded over 500 ceasefire violations, including about 170 explosions. Reflecting volatility along the contact line, this burst of violence passed as suddenly as it had come. It’s easy to forget – given this violence – that the sides have actually agreed to and have committed to a comprehensive ceasefire. Starting in September 2014, there has been a series of agreements dealing with the withdrawal of weapons, ceasefire, disengagement of forces and hardware, and mine action. The sides have similarly agreed that the OSCE SMM should have safe unfettered access to all areas of Ukraine. What is lacking is respect for the agreements already signed. Read almost any OSCE SMM daily report and you will see clear evidence of proscribed weapons in violation of the agreed withdrawal lines. On 23 May, for instance, the SMM saw a 122mm D-30 howitzer in Donetsk city. The day before, just west of Novoaidar, we spotted a 152mm D-20 howitzer,’ Hug said.
The Mission’s Deputy Head added that Russia-sponsored militants keep restricting freedom of OSCE observers’ movement. ‘Last week, for example, we recorded 34 instances in which our patrols on the ground had their freedom-of-movement restricted. Twenty of those cases were in or around the three disengagement areas; even though the sides have explicitly promised to remove mines and unexploded ordnance, they have failed to do so in these areas, meaning our patrols have not full access there. In the other 14 cases – outside the disengagement areas – all were in areas not controlled by the Government,’ he said.