SMM OSCE: third highest use of Grad MRLS since January 2016 recorded last week


The number of ceasefire violations recorded by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission more than doubled compared to the previous week.
“That increased level of violence was particularly noted in terms of the recorded use of weapons proscribed by the Minsk agreements, namely tanks, mortars and artillery, including multiple launch rocket systems.[…] There was a 230 percent increase in the recorded use of proscribed weapons last week, compared to the previous week. Of particular concern is the fact that embedded in that figure are 400 instances when we recorded the use of multiple launch rocket systems,” said Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to him, since January 2016, this was the third highest use of MLRS they have recorded.
Most of last week’s recorded violence occurred in five defined areas: the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport triangle, where a quarter of all recorded ceasefire violations happened; in the Popasna-Pervomaisk-Troitske area (20%); in areas east and north-east of Mariupol (20%); also in areas south-east and east of Svitlodarsk and in the western and northern outskirts of Horlivka. “The number of ceasefire violations recorded in western Luhansk region increased by a staggering 570 percent compared to the previous week,” said Alexander Hug.
Mr. Hug stated that recent agreements between the parties are being violated both in terms of ceasefire,  disengagement of positions in Zolote and Petrykivske and heavy weapons withdrawal.
In total last week, SMM monitors observed 69 units of weaponry in the “safety area” which had to be withdrawn, 47 in areas not controlled by the Government and 22 in areas controlled by the Government.
Friday last week, so-called “DPR” armed members in “DPR”-controlled Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiyske) fired warning shots in the vicinity of SMM monitors. “The monitors had just observed two self-propelled howitzers in violation of withdrawal lines. The same day, in Yasynuvata, one of our unmanned aerial vehicles was downed, presumably by small-arms fire. The UAV had just spotted evidence of the use of large calibre artillery in the area,” said the Deputy Chief Monitor.
Mr. Hug added that since the beginning of 2017, the SMM has confirmed 86 civilian casualties, 16 of them fatalities.