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OSCE monitors only register isolated instances of weapons use in east Ukraine over weekend

September 23, 2014, 3:54 UTC+3 VIENNA
On Sunday, the SMM, when visiting the Ukrainian checkpoint in Debaltsevo, “heard two explosions allegedly from 82mm mortar shelling approximately 1km north-east of the checkpoint", the OSCE said
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© ITAR-TASS/Konstantin Sazonchik, File

VIENNA, September 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) registered only isolated instances of the use of weapons over the first two days since the signing in Minsk of a memorandum on implementation of the ceasefire regime in Ukraine’s embattled east, the OSCE said in a statement on its website.

“Soldiers of the Ukrainian army and armed personnel of ‘Lugansk People’s Republic’ (‘LPR’) manning various checkpoints in the vicinity of Shchastya (23km north of Luhansk) reported to the SMM [Special Monitoring Mission] no incidents on 20 September,” the organization said.

“Also in Stanytsia Luhanska (24km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM observed no incident of concern on 21 September,” the statement said.

On Sunday, the SMM, when visiting the Ukrainian checkpoint in Debaltsevo, “heard two explosions allegedly from 82mm mortar shelling approximately 1km north-east of the checkpoint. The checkpoint was fully operational,” the OSCE said.

“On 20 September at 11:00, the SMM heard in Kominternove (24km north-east of Mariupol) sounds of shelling (17 rounds) east of the village (between the villages Krasnoarmiyske and Sakhanka), where ‘DPR’ positions were located,” it said.

“The SMM observed on 20 September that Luhansk airport was completely destroyed, including airport infrastructure such as planes, cars, trucks and tanks remaining in the area. The runways could no longer be used due to the large number of craters. No human remains were seen,” the organization also said.

On September 20 in Minsk, the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The document contains nine points, including in particular a ban on the use of all armaments and their withdrawal 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

The document was signed by OSCE representative to Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador in Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and LPR head Igor Plotnitsky.

The talks also involved first deputy DPR premier Andrey Purgin and LPR Supreme Council chairman Alexey Karyakin.

Some 3,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire during OSCE-mediated talks on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his seven-point plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but reports said it has been occasionally violated.

Ukraine’s parliament on September 16 granted a special self-rule status to certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions for three years. Elections to local self-government bodies were set for December 7. The Verkhovna Rada also passed a law on amnesty for participants of combat activities in Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions.

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