The flare-up in the conflict zone in the east of Ukraine over the past week was the worst since the beginning of 2016.
“Last week the number of ceasefire violations recorded by the SMM almost tripled. The number of explosions caused by Minsk-proscribed weapons – namely, mortars, tanks and artillery – saw a six-fold increase. Of those explosions caused by Minsk-proscribed weapons, over 40 percent were caused by multiple launch rocket systems.” […] We have recorded the use of MLRS on both sides, as well as positioning of MLRS in the security zone, where they should not be, on both sides,” stated Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. He noted that in recent days there was a considerable drop off in violence.
According to OSCE monitors, the shelling caused 38 civilian casualties, eight of them fatalities.
Alexander Hug said that the escalation “came as no surprise” for the OSCE because of the proximity of the sides’ positions, especially in Avdiivka-Yasynuvata area, and the presence of heavy weapons in the security zone. “Last week alone, we saw at least 106 proscribed weapons, including multiple launch rocket systems, in violation of the respective withdrawal lines,” he emphasized. The SMM First Deputy Chief stressed that the use of MLRS “Grad” is absolutely unacceptable, as this weapons is indiscriminate and often causes civilian casualties. On behalf of the OSCE he called the sides to disengage and withdraw heavy weapons from the security zone.