PARIS, 4 April. /TASS/. France and Germany expressed concern over the aggravation of the situation on the line of contact in Donbass and voiced their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This is according to a joint statement Foreign Ministers of France and Germany, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas, published on Sunday night.
According to the document France and Germany "are concerned about an increase in the number of ceasefire violations, while the situation in eastern Ukraine has stabilized since July 2020."
France and Germany are monitoring the situation very closely, in particular the movements of Russian troops, and call on the parties to restrain and immediately reduce tensions, the communique says.
"We reaffirm our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders," the statement says.
The two foreign ministries stressed that they continue to strive for the full implementation of the terms of the Minsk agreements and support the ongoing negotiations in this regard. They welcomed the decision to renew the mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine. The ministers also called for the "end of obstacles to freedom of movement" of its participants.
Since July 27, 2020, the Contact Group on ironing out the situation in eastern Ukraine introduced additional measures to control the ceasefire in Donbass. Under the agreement, the Donbass conflicting parties are banned from carrying out offensive and reconnaissance operations, using any types of aircraft, opening fire and deploying heavy weapons in populated localities. One of the key provisions is the use of disciplinary measures for ceasefire violations. Furthermore, the backfire in the case of an offensive is allowed only after the commander's direct order.
The situation in Donbass aggravated at the end of February. Shelling was recorded almost every day, in particular with the use of mortars and grenade launchers. The parties blamed the aggravation on each other.
On Saturday, the mission of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) to the Joint Center on Ceasefire Coordination and Control (JCCC) said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had violated the ceasefire eight times in the past 24 hours, firing nearly 60 shells into the DPR.