The SMM continued to observe people applying for Russian passports in Donbas / Photo from UNIAN

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has recently recorded an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

"In the past two weeks, the SMM recorded an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine as compared to the relatively low levels of violence observed over and immediately after Orthodox Easter. Between May 6 and May 19, monitors recorded around 7,000 ceasefire violations per week (around 4,000 had been recorded the week before)," the OSCE SMM said in its status report as of May 20, 2019.

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The second week of May saw a significant increase in the use of weapons that should have been withdrawn in accordance with the Minsk agreements (around 1,000 instances).

"In total, from May 6 to May 19 monitors observed 277 weapons in violation of the agreed withdrawal lines (216 in areas not controlled by the Government)," the report said.

Shelling and small-arms fire continued to impact civilian infrastructure. "In particular, the SMM observed fresh gunfire damage to two functioning schools in Troitske and in Zolote-5/Mykhailivka. In Troitske, monitors were told that students had been at school when the damage occurred. The school in Zolote has been hit nine times since December 2018," it said.

The area around the Donetsk Filtration Station, which supplies potable water to nearly 380,000 people on both sides of the contact line, continued to experience shelling. In one instance on May15, the SMM, while facilitating and monitoring adherence to the ceasefire to enable the operation of the facility, heard three outgoing explosions less than 300 metres from their position.

The mission confirmed two civilian casualties, bringing the total number registered by the SMM in 2019 to 35 (six deaths and 29 injuries). In one instance, a man died after a metal object he had found in the outskirts of Velyka Novosilka exploded.

"The SMM continued to observe people applying for passports of the Russian Federation in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region and started to observe the same in Luhansk region," the report said.