OSCE: Sides at Trilateral Contact Group have not come to an agreement on withdrawal


Kyiv, August 06, 2015. Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine told at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center that the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) established by the Minsk Accords has yet to reach an agreement regarding limited withdrawal from contact lines in Eastern Ukraine. Hug, along with SMM Chief Monitor Ertugral Apakan, attended the 7th round of the TCG. Over the next two days, stakeholders discussed plans for tank and small caliber weapons withdrawal but reached no agreement. Hug continues to call on all sides to engage in genuine dialog to resolve this issue.

On the ground in eastern Ukraine, the SMM continues to observe ceasefire violations by tanks and small caliber weapons usage, including approximately 500 explosions over the previous week. Hug stipulated that while the SMM observed that the area in and around the Donetsk airport remained volatile, Shyrokyne remained calm in spite of the fact that last week, an OSCE monitor was injured in the town. The SMM helped facilitate the a de-mining consultant’s visit to Shyrokyne.

The situation was more serious in other parts of eastern Ukraine. According to Hug, east of Oktyabr village an incident involving a self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) militant allegedly acting in an impaired state that may have involved the use of illicit drugs threatened OSCE monitors with a heavy machine gun. Fighting intensified in and around Horlivka, while the situation in Perevovskaya remained tense.

The death toll and damage caused by shelling in the East is on the rise, according to Hug. In Horlivka, a private home sustained a direct hit during the previous night, killing one of the residents and wounding the other two. In Chernivkse, five houses sustained direct strikes, and in Stanytsia Luhanska, nine homes were damaged while three were completely destroyed.

The SMM received reports that numerous ATO forces were killed this week. “We deplore these actions! Most of the [conflict’s] violence has occurred in residential areas. Most victims were civilians. This will continue so long as both sides maintain firing positions,” Hug intimated. The OSCE Deputy Head concluded by citing a popular Bruce Springsteen lyric, explaining that: “‘Nobody wins until everybody wins’ – from Chernihiv to Kherson, Luhansk to Uzhhorod, the SMM continues to witness daily Ukrainian civilians being victims of this conflict. The SMM will not lose sight of them.”