Ceasefire violations increased in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata area, Donetsk region. Weapons, that were supposed withdrawn, are missing from the sites. SMM’s freedom of movement restricted. Repairs of essential infrastructure in Luhansk region suspended.
Kyiv, April 15, 2016. The level of ceasefire violations registered by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) remained consistently high, especially in the area of government-controlled Avdiivka and Yasynuvata, controlled by so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”). “The majority of violations in Donetsk region recorded there. On 8 April the SMM recorded 979 undetermined explosions and multiple bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire. Just yesterday in the Donetsk region the SMM recorded a total of 4 372 ceasefire violation, reflecting a sharp increase in fighting in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata area,” stated Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM in Ukraine at the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The areas of the Donetsk airport and Svitlodarsk-Horlivka also remained volatile. Moreover, stressed Mr. Hug, the geography of ceasefire violation has extended to areas in the south of Donetsk region. For example, in Kominternove on April 9 the SMM heard at least 15 undetermined explosions in a two-minute period and on April 13 the monitors recorded 17 explosions within an hour. Mr. Hug added that people in Zhovanka, Zaitseve and Kominternove keep telling them that as soon as the SMM patrols leave their areas – the shelling resumes.
The SMM monitors noted that more and more weapons are absent from the sites they were previously withdrawn to. In addition, these weapons are returned back to the security zone. “On 13 April we saw five self-propelled howitzers near so-called “DPR”-controlled Yasynivka and six towed howitzers north of government-controlled Mariupol”, he explained. In addition, on the night of April 12 the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted eight rounds being fired from two mortars in government-controlled Avdiivka. In Luhansk the monitors saw seven tanks, seven multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122-mm), ten towed howitzers and seven self-propelled howitzers.
“The SMM consistently lays out all the details of the sides’ violations in our public reports, but there has been no reaction from them. Ceasefire violations as the “new-normal” should not be allowed to emerge and comprehensive de-escalation must begin immediately,” stressed Alexander Hug. The SMM Principal Deputy Chief Monitor has also expressed concern about the fact that SMM’s freedom of movement is increasingly restricted and there is lack of effective response from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination to the incidents when the safe access for OSCE monitors was not ensured.
The SMM Principal Deputy Chief Monitor also turned attention to the fact that the pedestrian bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska, the only official route across the contact line in the entire Luhansk region, remains closed. “This exposes civilians to the risks of using unsafe routes”, he stressed. “As a way to improve conditions for civilians the mine action measures are straightforward, but we continue noting little progress in this regard,” said Hug. He also informed that most of repairs of essential infrastructure have been suspended due to the deteriorated security situation.