MINSK, February 1. /TASS/. The Contact Group on Ukrainian conflict settlement will gather in the Belarusian capital Wednesday against the background of intensified hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
Despite a ceasefire agreement, reached by the sides ahead of the New Year, the truce lasted only for several days. In mid-January clashes escalated to the point when OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group Martin Sajdik had to deliver a statement to express his concern by the intensified shelling.
A week ago, Russia’s OSCE Envoy warned the organization’s Permanent Council of mounting tensions in the area.
Earlier this week, the Kiev government forces tried to retake areas under control of the militia forces. The fierce fighting resulted in nearly a hundred of deaths. In addition, vital infrastructure was damaged in several settlements, including the town of Avdeyevka, where 35,000 residents were left without electricity, heating, communications and water. Local authorities had to announce a partial evacuation of residents.
The Kiev government blamed the eastern Ukrainian militia for the escalation of the conflict, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claimed he had to cut short his visit to Germany, although the official program of the journey was over by that time.
However, according to the military authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukrainian servicemen started their offense as early as Sunday evening, but had to withdraw to their initial positions due to fierce resistance.
The UN Security Council held a closed session to discuss the issue on the Kiev government’s request Monday. According to Kiev’s permanent UN envoy, the Ukrainian side circulated among the council’s members a draft press statement calling for an immediate end to the hostilities.
A similar call was voiced earlier by Russia, Brussels, the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, a number of European countries, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United States. UN Secretary general spokesman Stephane Dujarric also called for an immediage ceasefire, adding that the resumption of hostilities are a direct breach of the Minsk reconciliation accords.