VIENNA, August 11. /TASS/. Observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have come under fire again in eastern Ukraine, says a statement of the organization’s Chairperson-in-Office Ivica Dacic.
He again urged the parties to the conflict not to impede the work of the Special Monitoring Mission and denounced the recent OSCE car arson attack in Donetsk.
Dacic noted that safety and freedom of movement was critically important for the mission’s activities, adding that he vigorously condemned any incidents and actions hindering the work of the observers.
He also demanded that the parties to the conflict ensured the inviolability of the mission’s property.
The official also stressed that the new escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine is "alarming" and contradicts the spirit of the ceasefire agreements signed in Minsk in February.
Dacic, currently the rotating chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said following reports of fighting in several areas in the Donetsk region that he was concerned by "a significant increase of ceasefire violations yesterday in areas east and north of Mariupol."
"The area in and around Starohnativka is of particular concern at the moment," he said.
Dacic stressed that "the current escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine is alarming and against the spirit of the Minsk agreements". He reminded all sides of their "responsibility to adhere to the ceasefire and prevent further civilian casualties".
The February 12 peace deal struck in the Belarusian capital by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias starting from February 15.
This was to be followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement by at least 15 kilometres (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers sent by the 57 member states of the OSCE to monitor the truce.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.