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OSCE observers report escalation of hostilities in Ukraine

April 15, 2015, 8:36 UTC+3 VIENNA
The sides exchange tank fire, as well as well as small arms fire
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© EPA/SERGEY VAGANOV

VIENNA, April 14. /TASS/. The Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a daily report that it has witnessed an escalation of fighting between Ukrainian troops and militia in Ukraine.

"That day [April 11], after 18:35hrs, the SMM witnessed an escalation of hostilities, with a tank round being fired and small-arms and machine-gun fire exchange between forces in government-controlled Berdianske and Shyrokyne," the report said.

"At 19:05hrs, the SMM saw flashes resulting from intermittent heavy mortar shelling. The JCCC [Joint Center for Control and Coordination] confirmed the SMM’s observations and described the fighting during this period as intensive," it said.

Earlier today, Russia’s envoy to the OSCE Andrey Kelin said Kiev initiated the escalation of fighting. He said it was evident from OSCE SMM reports.

An earlier SMM report (April 12) said: "Following an SMM-facilitated, three-day period of relative calm, at 18.35hrs on 11 April, the SMM - positioned on the eastern outskirts of government-controlled Berdianske (2km west of "Donetsk People’s Republic" ("DPR")-controlled Shyrokyne) - heard a tank round being fired."

"It assessed it to have been fired from government-controlled territory approximately 500 metres from its position, and to have impacted in or around Shyrokyne. As the SMM was leaving the area - 15 minutes following the firing of the tank round - it heard a small arms and machine gun fire engagement between forces in Berdianske and Shyrokyne," it said.

Today’s report also said: "The SMM revisited six heavy weapons holding areas of Ukrainian Armed Forces and was able to verify that the majority of weapons previously recorded were in situ, that their locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines and all serial numbers conform to previous visits."

"However, three previously recorded towed artillery guns were not present at one of the locations. The site commander stated that the guns had been removed for training purposes," it said.

Normandy Four and Trilateral Group meetings

The foreign ministers of the Normandy Four (Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany) held talks on Ukraine in Berlin on Monday, April 13. The focus of the negotiations was implementation of the February 12 Minsk agreements, especially their political part. The talks were preceded by expert consultations earlier in the day.

Regular talks of the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group on east Ukrainian settlement comprising representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE were held in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 10-12, 2015. Normandy Four leaders also discussed the Ukrainian issue in Minsk then.

A 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements was adopted at those talks.

The package in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including enforcement of a special self-rule status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

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