OSCE sees spike in Donbas truce violations in Nov
The U.S. Mission to the OSCE reports a record number of ceasefire violations in Donbas in November 2016 since 2014.
"The situation continues to deteriorate in eastern Ukraine. In mid-November ceasefire violations reached their highest levels since the establishment of the Special Monitoring Mission in 2014," reads the statement by Deputy Mission Chief Kate Byrnes delivered at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna Nov 24.
"Furthermore, the SMM recorded last week the highest-ever number of violations from heavy weapons, including multiple launch rocket systems. Combined Russian-separatist forces continue to be responsible for the majority of ceasefire violations," Byrnes said. "We call on all parties to comply fully with the Minsk agreements, including upholding the ceasefire, withdrawing proscribed weapons, making progress on disengagement, and providing the SMM full and unfettered access to all parts of Ukraine, particularly the territory controlled by combined Russian-separatist forces."
She also noted that as fighting has surged, so too have threats and aggressive acts against the SMM, with nine incidents recorded over the last two months.
Read alsoOSCE sees over 30,000 individuals in military dress coming from Russia to Donbas"Combined Russian-separatist forces have failed to follow-up on any of the incidents for which they were responsible, even after the SMM met with senior separatist leadership. Not a single one. This is unacceptable," she said. "Russia and the separatists it supports must accept their responsibility for this conduct and prohibit intimidation and threats against monitors."
The diplomat stressed that civilian casualties continued to mount as security conditions deteriorated.
“The SMM has confirmed 365 civilian casualties so far in 2016,” she said.
Byrnes noted: "Restraint is needed to avoid harm to the civilians living in the conflict zone."
"The United States reiterates its call to all sides to remove their forces from civilian areas. We thank Ukraine for its commitment to do so in last week’s Permanent Council," said Byrnes.