Monitors register sharp increase of ceasefire violations at the end of December – beginning of January and urge to set up more entry-exit check-points.
According to estimates of observers of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), the week of December 19-25 was the most restless in terms of combat activity, said Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “The number of incidents involving use of weapons prohibited by the Minsk Agreements – tanks, artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems grew by 250 percent. Observers registered at least 3374 explosion from these weapons. […] The number of explosions grew to 336 on January 2-8,” elaborated Hug. About 50% of all the ceasefire violations took place in the areas east and south east of Svitlodarsk, as well as area east and north east of Mariupol, outskirts of Horlivka and Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport triangle.
“On January 7, the day of Orthodox Christmas celebration, our monitors registered armistice violations in all “traditional” flashpoints. For instance, they heard 40 explosions from their position between Hnutove and Pyshchevyk, which they evaluated to be explosions of bombs from automatic grenade launchers […] they also heard 56 explosions of unidentified origin,” said the First Deputy Chief Monitor.
Alexander Hug believes that disengagement of troops and equipment is the urgent step, especially in checkpoints areas. “We need to reduce the risks for people who are queuing at these five entry points,” he said, adding that more checkpoints are needed.