Donbas disengagement possible after OSCE SMM confirms 7 consecutive days of truce - Kyiv
Ukrainian representative in the political subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) Oleksiy Reznikov has said that disengagement of forces and hardware in Zolote and Petrivske will be possible when the OSCE SMM confirms seven consecutive days of truce in these areas of the Donbas contact line.
"In recent days, Russian officials of all levels have been actively spreading distorted information that the Ukrainian side has allegedly thwarted the process of disengagement of forces and hardware in the areas of Zolote and Petrivske that was agreed upon in Minsk on October 1 of this year," Reznikov said in a comment posted on the website of the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
"First of all, the agreement to disengage forces and hardware in three pilot areas [near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote, and Petrivske] was reached by the Ukrainian and Russian sides back on September 21, 2016, when the Trilateral Contact Group signed the Framework Decision on the Disengagement of Forces and Hardware in Minsk as a foundation of the Package of Minsk Agreements," he said.
"Secondly, the working plan and schedule of events due to take place in the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas, which were approved in Minsk on October 1, 2019, absolutely do not overrule the provisions of the TCG's Framework Decision on the Disengagement of Forces of Hardware dated September 21, 2016, including Clause 2, which strictly requires seven consecutive days of truce in each disengagement area before the disengagement process can begin," Reznikov said.
This clause of the Framework Agreement says the seven days of truce in disengagement areas must be verified (confirmed) by the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine. However, the OSCE SMM, which is tasked with monitoring and verifying the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in daily and weekly reports, continued to record ceasefire violations in the Zolote and Petrivske disengagement areas by illegal armed units from October 1, 2019, Reznikov said.
"On October 11, the SMM saw members of the armed formations, while at the checkpoint of the armed formations [of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic] on the southern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, fire a white illumination flare, signaling readiness to renew disengagement. Since there was no reciprocal action, the activities related to withdrawal of forces and hardware did not commence," the OSCE SMM said in its daily report.
The mission also observed weapons deployed in violation of the withdrawal lines. "The Mission observed 69 weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Donetsk region and non-government-controlled areas of both Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It also observed 103 weapons beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites in government-controlled areas of Donetsk region and non-government-controlled areas of both Donetsk and Luhansk regions," it said.
In addition, the OSCE SMM observed an increased number of ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and the absence of such violations in Luhansk region.