Donbas tensions escalate, 2,000 ceasefire breaches seen in 24-hour period
Tensions are escalating in the Donbas frontline zone, and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has observed an increase in shooting incidents, OSCE SMM Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug said at a press briefing in Kyiv on Friday.
The situation was relatively quiet after the holiday truce took effect, but violations occurred every day, Hug said.
In his words, the conflicting sides are not fully committed to their obligations, and tensions are beginning to escalate.
Hug referred to the 2,000 ceasefire breaches observed by monitors between 5 p.m. on January 9 and 5 p.m. on January 10.
There have been similar agreements before: the so-called Easter, school, and bread ceasefires, and all of them followed the same pattern. Gunfire abruptly stopped, but the number of shooting incidents gradually increased afterward, Hug said.
All of those ceasefires had a positive effect because local residents were able to rest for a moment, but the truces did not hold, Hug said.
The monitors saw as many as 401,336 ceasefire violations in Donbas last year, Hug said.
A total of 320,130 occurred in 2016, he said.
Last year saw 4,065 cases of the deployment of heavy weapons in violation of the Minsk Agreements, and the performance of the OSCE SMM's patrol missions was hindered 2,422 times, Hug said.
The OSCE SMM cannot bring peace; the conflicting parties are the only ones capable of ending the hostilities and ensuring a lasting peace by pulling out armaments and conducting demining operations, Hug said.