Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

The diplomat said that the United States is deeply concerned about Russia’s withdrawal from the Joint Control and Coordination Centre. Washington is also concerned about the ongoing hostilities in Donbas.

“Why is it… that Russia has unilaterally abandoned a mechanism that has proved instrumental in negotiating local ceasefires?" said  Kamian.

"Despite its limited influence, the JCCC was a bilateral channel that negotiated ceasefires to allow workers to repair infrastructure and aid civilians,” the diplomat said.

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Read alsoRussia's withdrawal from JCCC heightens environmental risks in Donbas – UK FCO"The conclusion drawn from this action is clear: the Russian Federation seeks to absolve itself of the incendiary role it plays in the Ukrainian conflict. By unilaterally withdrawing from the JCCC, Russia effectively renders it ineffective and exposes civilians and our SMM monitors to increased danger," said Kamian.

He has also noted that the JCCC has a responsibility to contribute to the security and safety of the SMM monitors.

"We join many other voices in calling on Russia to put an end to the attacks in eastern Ukraine and restore the JCCC immediately," said the diplomat.

Read alsoRussia withdraws from JCCC "right before" escalation in Donbas - Volker"We find it particularly striking that, on the same day that Russia withdrew from the JCCC, its forces bombarded the town of Novoluhanske with rockets, wounding eight civilians and damaging dozens of houses, a school, and a playground. The fighting in the Donbas continues to worsen and has reached a level similar to that experienced in January and February of 2017," he added.

Besides, he noted the lack of signs that Russia or its proxies are interested in protecting vulnerable infrastructure, which serves civilians on both sides of the line of contact.

"While the security situation is indeed dire, a path forward exists. The Minsk agreements, in their totality, form the basis of a peaceful settlement in the Donbas. Russia is a party to the agreements, yet remains unwilling to take the first steps in creating the conditions for the implementation of the agreements. Until it does, the conflict will continue," Kamian stressed.

Read alsoPoroshenko proposes to strengthen JCCC in Donbas by German, French presenceAs UNIAN reported earlier, on December 18, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow was terminating its presence in the JCCC because of the "tense moral and psychological situation" and the "disrespectful attitude of Ukrainian servicemen" toward the Russian military.

Also, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that another reason for the withdrawal was the introduction by Ukraine on January 1, 2018, of a new order of entry and stay of Russian citizens .

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry believes that Russia’s move significantly undermines Minsk agreements.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission stated that the positions in the JCCC freed by Russian officers were taken by militants.

On December 20, the Ukrainian security envoy in the Tripartite Contact Group, Yevhen Marchuk, said that Russia was ready to return its military to the JCCC under certain conditions: "approval of the JCCC regulations, its status, security guarantees, etc."