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OSCE says east Ukraine shelled by Grad rocket launchers

August 17, 2015, 21:56 UTC+3 VIENNA
The OSCE's special monitoring mission (SMM) to Ukraine observed damage caused by shelling and conducted several crater analyses in Donetsk and Luhansk region
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© AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

VIENNA, August 17. /TASS/. International observers monitoring the ceasefire in Ukraine reported on Monday that Grad rocket launchers had been used in recent days to shell settlements in the country’s east.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s special monitoring mission (SMM) to Ukraine observed damage caused by shelling and conducted several crater analyses in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, SMM monitors said in their latest report.

Analyses of eight fresh craters in the Krasnoarmeyskoye settlement, subjected to shelling on August 14, indicated that "they were all caused by Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS, 122mm) originating from a westerly direction", monitors said.

Similar conclusions were reached after visiting the settlement of Telmanovo on August 16. "The SMM analysed 16 craters and concluded that they were caused by MLRS (122mm BM-21 Grad) fired from a west-south-westerly direction," the report said. "The SMM observed that some houses were heavily damaged and a transformer providing electricity to the village was destroyed."

Last weekend, SMM monitors also visited four Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas. "In two areas a total of eight MLRS (122mm BM-21 Grad) previously recorded were absent," the report said, adding that at Donetsk’s heavy weapons holding areas the mission verified "all previously registered weapons were present".

The overall situation in the Luhansk region remained relatively tense, monitors said, noting "a significant increase in ceasefire violations" observed in areas north-west of the city of Luhansk.

The OSCE monitoring mission to Ukraine was deployed more than a year ago following a request from Ukraine. It delivers public reports on fighting between forces loyal to Kiev and people’s militias as well as on movements on border crossings between Russia and Ukraine.

Under terms of the peace deal agreed by leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12, the ceasefire regime came into effect at midnight on 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.

Withdrawal was due to start no later than the second day after the truce came into effect, for completion within two weeks.

Buffer zones were to be established of at least 50 kilometres (30 miles) for artillery of 100mm-calibre or more, 70 kilometres for multiple rocket launch systems and 140 kilometres for the heaviest rockets and missiles.

Both sides accuse each other of violating the ceasefire agreed in Minsk despite the pull-back of heavy weapons.

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