OSCE reports 300% spike in use of banned arms in Donbas last week
Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine Alexander Hug has reported about a 300% spike in the use of weapons banned under the Minsk peace agreements on Donbas.
"Last week the use of Minsk-proscribed weapons increased by approximately 300%," he said at a briefing in Kyiv on Thursday.
He also reported about an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in the period under review.
"Last week, OSCE monitors recorded a 75% increase in the number of ceasefire violations compared to the previous week," he said.
He also elaborated on the types of weapons used in Donbas.
"Last week the SMM recorded about 985 mortar, tank, artillery and multiple launch rocket system explosions," he said.
In his words, there were 242 explosions registered in the previous week.
"These proscribed weapons were fired by men in uniform despite the fact that men in suits a long time ago agreed to withdraw these weapons," he said.
The vast majority of these explosions, in particular 843 of them, were recorded over the weekend in areas south and southeast of the town of Svitlodarsk, he added.
OSCE counts 2,900 truce violations amid Svitlodarska Duha battles within one day"This hotspot accounted for half of all ceasefire violations throughout the security zone. Behinds these dry facts lies a massive upsurge in violence. Its intensity can be judged by what our monitors in government-controlled Svitlodarsk observed on Sunday. In just over six hours, they heard 700 explosions. 680 were assessed as outgoing 120mm artillery rounds, and 20 outgoing tank rounds in nearby so-called "DPR"-controlled Debaltseve. Other SMM monitors on Saturday night heard what they assessed as 12 outgoing multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) rounds. The next day they heard an approximately 43 outgoing MLRS rounds, as well as 1,900 undetermined explosions," he said.
The OSCE SMM said it recorded over 300,000 instances of ceasefire violation in Donbas throughout the year 2016.
"With the exception of the first of September we have not had a single day in which we have not recorded ceasefire violations. We have in fact throughout the year recorded over 300,000 ceasefire violations. Many of these ceasefire violations involved the use of the Minsk-proscribed weapons namely artillery pieces, mortars, tanks, and multiple launch rocket systems," he said.
"Even though the sides agreed to pull these weapons back beyond agreed withdrawal lines, we have this year spotted over 3,000 such weapons within the withdrawal lines," he added.
In his words, much of the violence seen by OSCE SMM members in Donbas is taking place in and around urban areas.
"We literally see thousands of explosive rounds being fired in these areas which makes it inevitable that civilians are getting caught up in the violence," he said.
From January to November 2016, OSCE monitors recorded 83 civilian deaths, and 305 cases of civilian injuries.