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Moscow concerned about threat of armed actions escalation in Donbass — envoy

The continuing steps of the Ukrainian military to seize the ‘neutral zone’ along the line of engagement cause a dangerous approach of the sides’ positions, Russia's Ambassador to the OSCE says

MOSCOW, March 18. /TASS/. Moscow is concerned greatly by the threat of escalation of military actions in Donbass, Russia’s Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich told a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on Crimea and situation in Ukraine.

"We are concerned about the threat of escalation of the military actions in Donbass," he said. "The continuing steps of the Ukrainian military to seize the ‘neutral zone’ along the line of engagement cause a dangerous approach of the sides’ positions, and provokes more intensive collisions."

"Not to mention it contradicts absolutely the Minsk Complex of Measures (to settle the crisis in Ukraine)," he said.

"The most volatile situation develops near Yasinovataya," he continued. "During a recent briefing of deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) Alexander Hug demonstrated to delegations how the Ukrainian military had concentrated their forces in Avdeyevka, the shelling of Yasinovataya, the damage to civil infrastructures in Kashtanovo."

"We support efforts of the OSCE SMM and the Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring aimed at lowering the tension along the line of engagement," the Russian diplomat said. "We expect, the Ukrainian military will receive orders to retreat to initial positions. The shelling threatens work of the Donetsk water filtering station, which supplies water to the entire region on either side of the engagement line."

"On March 14, during a shelling of the Zaitsevo settlement, in the sight of the Ukrainian military were reporters of the Russian television channels and of China’s Xinhua."

"It cannot be justified to be self-fire, and we are expecting adequate reaction from the counterparts concerned about observation of reporters’ rights," the Russian ambassador said.

Over the past week, he said, were registered big numbers of violations of the Minsk Complex of Measures by Ukraine’s armed forces.

"In the security zone, were fixed 18 howitzers in Kurakovo, seven howitzers in Konstantinovka, two Osa anti-aircraft missile systems in Raigorodok, two anti-tank guns in Zaitsevo, two mortars in Papasnaya, one tank in Berezovoye," he said. "From the Ukrainian ammunition depots are registered as missing three multiple rocket launchers, 22 howitzers, 21 mortars, 74 anti-tank guns and 66 tanks."

"SMM also points to the fact that the Ukrainian military equipment at depots is in the state of combat readiness: the howitzers are connected to the trucks with uploaded shells," the Russian diplomat said. "In violation of the agreements on eliminating of the mine threat, the Ukrainian military make new mine fields. Despite the agreements reached by the Contact Group on cessation of training shooting, the Ukrainian forces continue them, including in Novoaidar and Spivakovka."

The Package (Minsk-2) was signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarusian capital Minsk by participants of the Contact Group on settlement in Donbass. The Package, earlier agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) envisioned an overwhelming cessation of fire and withdrawal of heavy armaments to create a security area in the region at least 50 kilometers wide.

In line with the agreement reached at talks in Minsk, from September 1, 2015 there should have been a complete cessation of fire at the disengagement line in Donbass. However, the Defense Ministry of the Donetsk People’s Republic registered an increased number of shelling instances over the past few months.