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OSCE envoy calls on parties to Donbass conflict to refrain from escalation

According to Heidi Grau, since November 2020, there has been a gradual increase in the number of ceasefire violations that negatively affects the civilians in the conflict zone

KIEV, March 18. /TASS/. The ceasefire in the conflict zone in Donbass is generally observed but the number of its violations has been gradually increasing, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Ambassador Heidi Grau said in a statement on Wednesday following regular online meetings of the Contact Group and its working subgroups.

"According to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission's assessments, the commitment to the ceasefire in the conflict zone and the additional measures to strengthen it are overall respected. The number of ceasefire violations continue to remain well below the average level in 2020, before the additional measures came into force," the OSCE mission’s press service quoted her as saying. "However, since November 2020, there has been a gradual increase in the number of ceasefire violations that, regrettably, negatively affects the civilians in the conflict zone."

Apart from that, she noted that the parties to the conflict have been accusing each other of seeking to resolve the conflict by force. "Undoubtedly, all of this has a negative impact on the activities of the TCG and its Working Groups," she emphasized.

"I would like to stress that all participants in the conflict need to refrain from any actions or statements that could be perceived as provocative or leading to increased tensions," she said, adding that these matters were discussed by the working subgroup on security.

According to Grau, other topics for discussion included "issues related to the proper functioning of the coordination mechanism for responding to ceasefire violations and the development of an updated demining plan, the adoption and implementation of which is crucial, especially in the run-up to the spring planting season."

"Procedural issues prevailed in the discussions of the Political Working Group, tasked by the TCG to develop an action plan in full compliance with the Minsk agreements, which this time obstructed substantive discussion in both the Working Group and the TCG," she pointed out.

The humanitarian subgroup, in her words, focused on ways to remove obstacles to the opening and full operation of the new entry-exit crossing points (EECPs) near Zolotoye and Schastye in the Lugansk region. "I would like to note that not only these two, but also all other EECPs should be opened as soon as possible in order to facilitate the crossing of the contact line by civilians," she said, adding that the subgroup also discussed issues of prisoner exchange.

The economic subgroup’s agenda included issues of water supplies across the contact line, as well as environmental problems and mobile communications in the Donbass republics.