Ukraine: Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists accuse each other of violating ceasefire

Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists accused each other on Thursday of having violated a ceasefire decided in July 2020 in eastern Ukraine, when Western countries welcomed an apparent easing of tensions. For more than a month, the West has accused Russia of massing troops on the Ukrainian border, near the separatist territories, with a view to possible military intervention.

On Wednesday evening, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) claimed that pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine had agreed to restore the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, an area at the heart new international tensions.

Ukraine was “cautiously optimistic” about de-escalation

“I was delighted that the participants expressed their strong determination to fully respect the measures to strengthen the ceasefire agreement of 22 July 2020,” the OSCE representative and an ombudsperson from the OSCE said in a statement. conflict, Mikko Kinnunen.

“This is of very great importance to people living on both sides of the front,” the diplomat continued, speaking after a videoconference from the Trilateral Contact Group, which brings together the parties to the conflict. The Ukrainian presidency also declared itself “cautiously optimistic in view of a possible de-escalation” on the front line, at the end of this meeting.

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One civilian wounded, three attacks launched

But on Thursday, the two sides accused each other of further violations of the agreement, with a representative of the separatists going so far as to deny that a new truce had been negotiated. “There is no agreement,” the meeting “came to nothing,” Rodion Miroshnik, a representative of the self-proclaimed Lugansk Republic (LNR), told the Telegram messaging app. “But if you really want to make a statement on this, why not do it?” “

The authorities of the other self-proclaimed republic, that of Donetsk (DNR), announced that a civilian was injured Thursday morning in a Ukrainian bombardment, according to the official separatist agency DAN. The Ukrainian army, for its part, said the separatists launched three attacks on its positions on Thursday. According to the Kiev press release, the separatists used large caliber mortars and grenade launchers, without claiming any casualties.

The truce was shattered in early 2021

In a joint statement, Germany and France “urged the parties to respect the ceasefire and to continue discussions on new measures in the humanitarian field”. In July 2020, the two camps, at war since 2014, had agreed to a ceasefire. This truce had been widely respected for several months, before finally being shattered at the beginning of the year 2021. According to Mikko Kinnunen, the daily violations of the ceasefire were on average five times higher in December 2021 compared to the same. months in 2020.

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The war in eastern Ukraine, which claimed more than 13,000 lives, erupted in the spring of 2014 after a pro-Western revolution in Kiev followed by Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula. The political settlement of the conflict, provided for by the Minsk agreements of 2015, has stalled. Russia, despite its denials, is widely seen as the military and financial godfather of the separatists.