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VIENNA, February 3. /TASS/. The parties to the conflict in eastern Ukraine are responsible for withdrawal of weapons from the contact line in conformity with the Minsk agreements, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug told TASS on Friday.
"The sides are responsible for withdrawing weapons in keeping with the Minsk agreements," he said. "The SMM will continue to monitor and verify compliance, and implement its wider mandate, including facilitation of dialogue and promotion of normalization."
When asked about the tanks observed in Avdeevka, Hug noted, "Whenever the OSCE SMM observes weapons in violation of the agreed withdrawal lines - and it does so almost every day on both sides of the contact line - the OSCE SMM reports on the facts in its publicly available reports, and regularly calls on the sides responsible to adhere to their obligation to withdraw such weapons."
Earlier, the OSCE SMM said in its regular report that four Ukrainian T-64 tanks and other heavy weapons, which were to be pulled out to a considerable distance from the contact line in keeping with the 2015 Minsk agreement, had been observed in Avdeevka.
The situation along the line of contact in the Donbass region has deteriorated dramatically over the past few days. There are casualties among the civilian population due to the incessant shelling by the Ukrainian armed forces, many dwelling houses and infrastructure facilities have been damaged. The UN Security Council issued a statement on Tuesday evening expressing profound concern over the dangerous escalation of the situation and urging the parties to stop hostilities at an early date. Security Council member-countries condemned the use of armaments prohibited by the Minsk agreements.
On February 1, the Contact Group on the settlement in eastern Ukraine demanded at a meeting in Minsk an end to hostilities in the Donbass region and withdrawal of all weapons and equipment along the entire contact line to storage sites by February 5.