17:01 Nov. 11, 2016
Security situation deteriorates as heavy artillery is back on the contact line
The conflict in eastern Ukraine is on the brink of a major escalation as the security situation deteriorated sharply over the past week, the OSCE warned on Friday.
"Over the last few days the SMM has witnessed particularly fierce fighting in hot spots throughout Donbas," Alexander Hug, the OSCE SMM's Principal Deputy Chief Monitor told a briefing in Kyiv on November 11.
Hug said that more than 7,000 ceasefire violations were registered last week with over 2,000 explosions occurring daily. The monitors recorded a high number of "particularly troubling" incidents involving the use of weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements, including Grad multiple-launch rocket systems.
"Last week the number of explosions from multiple launch rocket systems, mortar, artillery fire increased by 50% from the previous week," he said.
In particular, last week the monitors observed 140 rockets fired by the Grad MLRS near the village of Shyrokyne, some 20 km east of Mariupol. Grad rockets were also fired in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.
The situation has also deteriorated in Donetsk region.
"This week the situation escalated across the contact line. On Tuesday we recorded 340 explosions in one hour near Debaltseve, 193 mortar round explosions in 50 minutes near Svitlodarsk, 30 seconds of continuous Grad salvos near Horlivka, 83 explosions in just over 10 minutes in Yasynuvata, and 70 rocket-assisted projectiles in just 3 minutes in Shyrokyne," Hug specified.
The Deputy Chief monitor called on the sides to stop "pointing fingers at each other" and remember their commitments as the price paid by the civilian population is extremely high.
Hug: With winter coming, hardships faced by civilian population in e #Ukraine will only become more acute in coming months— OSCE SMM Ukraine (@OSCE_SMM) November 11, 2016
Hug also reported a small portion of positive news that the ceasefire is largely holding in the two of the three disengagement areas – in Zolote and Petrivske.
However, in Stanytsia Luhanska the sides have not commenced the disengagement process which was repeatedly postponed due to heavy fighting.
Hug: Stanytsia Luhanska bridge the only official crossing route in Luhansk reg. 4,000+ civilians cross daily. This is what they experience pic.twitter.com/unRmA0PcBL— OSCE SMM Ukraine (@OSCE_SMM) November 11, 2016