On July 22, 2020, a regular meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia, OSCE) which took place in the format of a video conference, was productive.
According to the decision, from 00:01 on July 27, 2020, a full comprehensive ceasefire must be observed.
Measures to strengthen the ceasefire
The measures were agreed upon by Ukraine, Russia and supported by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
According to these measures, a full comprehensive ceasefire in Donbas from Monday provides for:
- ban on offensive, reconnaissance and sabotage operations, as well as ban on operation of any types of aerial vehicles of the sides;
- ban on firing, including sniper fire;
- ban on the deployment of heavy weapons in and around settlements, primarily at civilian infrastructure, including schools, kindergartens, hospitals and public premises;
- the effective use of disciplinary actions for ceasefire violations and notification of them to the TCG Coordinator who shall inform all of its participants about it;
- creation and involvement of a coordination mechanism for responding to ceasefire violations through the facilitation of the JCCC in its current setting;
- retaliatory fire responding to an offensive operation* is only permissible if it occurs at the order made by the respective leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the leadership of CADLR armed formations after an unsuccessful attempt to make use of the above-mentioned coordination mechanism. The TCG shall be notified of the issuance of such orders.
- the above-mentioned measures may not be, fully or in part, disavowed by any other orders, including secret ones.
"Offensive operation shall have the following meaning: any attempts to change the positioning of the troops which exists as of the date of this statement, including any additional engineering improvement of positions, and/or any forward movement and/or relocation of armed persons towards the adversary, including for the purposes of reconnaissance and sabotage operations,” the message on OSCE website says.
The leaderships of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and CADLR armed formations will make public statements about the issuance of the orders listing all the above measures and confirm that these ceasefire orders comply with such measures.
Reaction of parties to the agreement
Office of the President. The office expressed hope that a full comprehensive ceasefire would be the basic precondition for holding elections in Donbas.
“After all, elections in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are only possible after a comprehensive de-escalation; withdrawal of foreign military units and equipment, disarmament of illegal armed formations; restoration of control by the Ukrainian government over the Ukrainian-Russian border,” the statement reads.
Office of the President also reminded that the elections have to be held in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine and in compliance with the OSCE Copenhagen Standards for Elections.
In addition, the office called the upcoming truce in Donbas a basic precondition for the implementation of Minsk agreements.
Russia's representative in the TCG, Boris Gryzlov, confirmed the ceasefire in Donbas from July 27, calling Kyiv and Donbas the parties to the military conflict.
“Measures to ensure a ceasefire between Kyiv and Donbas should take effect on July 27,” Interfax cited the politician as saying.
The so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic also confirmed reached agreement on “silence regime”.
“Form Monday, the orders of the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the leadership of the People's Militia (of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, - 112.international) on additional measures on support and compliance with the current indefinite truce for the entire period until a full settlement of the conflict will take effect,” the press service of the “Foreign Ministry” of so-called Donetsk People’s Republic said after the talks.
The OSCE assured that "OSCE SMM will contribute and support the sides in the implementation of these measures, as agreed by them, without prejudice to the established procedures of reporting or any other aspect of full implementation of its mandate”.
"I hope that the confirmed measures will bring long-awaited silence in the conflict zone and more peace to the civilian population," The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Ambassador Heidi Grau stated.
Shelled “silence regimes.” How it happened before
In the same period last year, at the Minsk meeting, an agreement was reached on an indefinite ceasefire in Donbas from July 21.
According to daily reports from the area of the Joint Forces Operation, the militants continue to open fire, including using of weapons of prohibited calibers.
In 2019, the TCG also was to agree on an “Easter truce,” but Russia refused to support Ukraine's initiative to declare a “silence regime” on the holiday and take responsibility for its observance in Donbas.
In 2017-2018, the so-called “bread truce” operated in the area of Joint Forces Operation - for the period of harvesting, but its militants traditionally broke it. The same was the fate of the “spring,” “school” and “New Year's” truce.
What else to know about the meeting
Kyiv handed over the lists for the exchange of detainees and stressed that it expected the same from the self-proclaimed so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
In addition, the members of the working group on humanitarian issues of the TCG confirmed their readiness to open two new entry-exit checkpoints on the contact line in Zolote and Shchastia of Luhansk region no later than November 10, 2020.
From its part, the OSCE called not to delay the start of construction work so that it can be completed before the cold season.
The economic working group also discussed current issues of water supply through the contact line.
The next meeting of the contact group will take place on August 19.