23 Jan 2018 19:56

OSCE concerned by rise in Donbas shelling after New Year lull

DONETSK. Jan 23 (Interfax) - The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has recorded an increase in ceasefire violations in Donbas after some lull over the New Year holiday period, Alexander Hug, Alexander Hug, first deputy head of the OSCe Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (OSCE SMM), said.

During the holiday period, the OSCE registered a minor decrease in ceasefire violations following the parties' decision in Minsk to observe ceasefire (the New Year truce), Hug told a press conference on Tuesday.

However, since the new truce set in there has been an increase in violations, which now number in four-digit figures, he said.

Last year the SMM recorded over 400,000 ceasefire violations, he said.

The reasons are purely technical, military: the continued presence of heavy weapons where they should not be, and the short distance between the parties' positions, Hug said.

Thus, over the whole of 2017 the SMM recorded 4,000 instances of tanks, mortars, multiple rocket launchers and artillery systems being where they should not have been, the OSCE official said.

The third point requiring parties' urgent attention is the demining and ordnance clearance, Hug said.

If the parties manage to resolve these issues, steady normalization will begin, he said.

In its 336 daily reports the SMM pointed out the violation of these agreements to the parties, he said. In all of the 4,000 cases of identifying heavy weapons, the SMM stated exactly where it spotted them, as well as mines and munitions, yet the parties are doing the exact opposite of what they should: they plant more mines, bring more weapons, and dig new trenches, the SMM first deputy chief said.