VIENNA, May 18. /TASS/. The Ukrainian military continues to shell settlements in the self-proclaimed republics in Donbass, provoking militiamen and putting civilians in danger, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Dmitry Balakin said at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.
He pointed out that members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) had recorded the Ukrainian military’s use of multiple-launch rocket systems, while incidents involving light weapons had always been initiated by the Ukrainian troops. The Russian diplomat added that over the past week, the Ukrainian military violated the ceasefire more than 250 times, shelling at least nine settlements.
"Such provocations happen all the time. Starting firefights in densely populated areas along the line of contact, the Ukrainian military puts in danger civilians residing both sides of the line," Balakin stressed.
The Russian diplomat also said that the weapons withdrawal process had been meant to become an important step aimed at ensuring the ceasefire along the line of contact in Donbass but it was currently at a standstill because of Kiev’s provocations taking place in Stanitsa Luganskaya. Russia still expects the Ukrainian military to fulfill its obligations concerning the withdrawal of weapons from this area, "as it was agreed at the May 15 meeting of the Contact Group, and after that, new areas for weapons withdrawal should be outlined," Balakin pointed out.
Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR, LPR) signed a framework agreement on the withdrawal of military units and weapons in September 2016. The document stipulates setting up three security zones - near the Zolotoye settlement (in the LPR), in Stanitsa Luganskaya (in the LPR) and in Petrovskoye settlement (in the DPR). Weapons have already been withdrawn from the Zolotoye and Petrovskoye areas while Kiev has been repeatedly disrupting the weapons withdrawal process near Stanitsa Luganskaya.