‘Less fighting’ after Ukraine truce

Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Ukraine’s latest ceasefire has “very significantly” lowered the level of military exchanges between the government and separatist forces, but abuses are still taking place and must end, t he head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has said.

Lamberto Zannier said OSCE monitors in Ukraine reported a number of violations in the south and some limited incidents around the town of Debaltseve, which was captured last week by Russian-backed rebel forces in violation of the ceasefire, and around Donetsk’s airport, which the separatists seized in January.

Under a peace agreement reached on February 12 in Minsk after all-night talks between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, a ceasefire was supposed to begin on February 15, followed by a withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides.

Foreign ministers of the four countries will meet in Paris today to discuss the latest situation in eastern Ukraine. Serbia, which chairs OSCE, is also due to deliver the organisation’s annual report to the United Nations Security Council.

Mr Zannier said the Minsk agreement was “the best chance … to de-escalate and bring this conflict to an end”.

“In general the ceasefire has achieved the goal of lowering very significantly the level of military exchange along the line of contact. Still there is work to be done and in some areas there are violations, and we are recording them.”

Mr Zannier said it was up to the political leaders to focus on ending the abuses so the ceasefire can take effect throughout the east, all prisoners can be released, and heavy weapons can be pulled back 16 to 44 miles to create a buffer zone.

He added that OSCE needed information from both sides to monitor the withdrawal of all weapons that were 100mm calibre or more.

Mr Zannier said OSCE hoped to have 350 monitors in eastern Ukraine “in the next couple of weeks” as well as its monitors elsewhere in the country.

The organisation is also considering expanding the mission by an additional 100 to 150 monitors and upgrading its equipment to include more unmanned drones, new mobile cameras and possible satellite imagery and radar systems so it can better observe events on the ground, he said.

Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015 by The News Editor

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