DONETSK, March 16. /TASS/. The situation is escalating along the entire contact line in Donbass but Kiev is hampering any consensus on security matters, Alexey Nikonorov, a negotiator for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in the security subgroup of the Contact Group on settling the situation in Donbass, said on Tuesday.
"We observe escalation of the situation along the entire contact line, with the Ukrainian armed forces using mortars of various caliber more and more often. Instead of trying to settle the key issues we insist on, such as playing down escalation, correction of violations, specification of the coordination mechanism’s functions within the existing ceasefire control measures, and repair works, the Ukrainian side indulges in irrelevant and pointless discussions and lengthy monologues amid the general escalation," he said in a press statement posted after the subgroup’s meeting on the website of the DPR’s mission to the Joint Ceasefire Control and Coordination Center.
Thus, according to the mission, fifty-four ceasefire violations by Ukrainian troops have been reported since the subgroup’s previous meeting on March 2. Apart from that, redeployment of Ukrainian forces along the contact line is regularly observed and Kiev officials publicly say that the Ukrainian side has the right to retaliatory fire, which runs counter to the package of additional ceasefire control measures in force since July 27.
"Ukraine’s approach thwarts the agreements that were signed on July 22, 2020. The only way to change the situation is to specify the rule of the procedure of the coordination mechanism and the side’s written commitment to it," he said, adding that such a mechanism will help reduce the level of escalation.
However, Kiev’s negotiators stick to the "traditional" approach, dodging discussion of this matter by all possible means and "it inspires no hope for a consensus," the DPR’s negotiator added.
The Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine, which held a videoconference meeting on July 22, 2020 agreed additional measures to control the ceasefire along the contact line in Donbass that came in force from July 27. The agreement came a year after the so-called indefinite ceasefire was declared by the parties on July 21, 2019 following more than 20 futile attempts to stop hostilities. Under the agreement, the parties to the conflict are banned to stage offensive and reconnaissance operations, use any types of drones, open fire, including from sniper weapons, and deploy heavy weapons in populated localities and addition engineering equipment at their positions. One of the key provisions is the use of disciplinary measures for ceasefire violations.