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Monday, October 6, 2014

Eastern Ukraine: ceasefire is broken; fighting is ongoing amid the growing criticism of the international community

Battles on the outskirts of Donetsk city
(Image: BBC)
A ceasefire reached as a result of the Minsk talks is actually broken long ago, as pro-Russian “rebels” and terrorists and Russian soldiers continue attacking the positions of Ukrainian military and ATO forces, attempting to seize more strategically important object in the volatile Donetsk region.

The city of Donetsk itself experiences daily attacks and shelling, as the rebels organize their fire positions in the residential neighborhoods, schools and hospitals, using civilians as human shields. Many districts of the city were shelled recently, leaving casualties. Heavy fighting continues on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk and in many other cities of the region, including Volnovakha, Debaltseve, Schastya, Mariupol and others. 

Pro-Russian terrorists continue their attacks of the Donetsk international airport which is still being held by the heroic Ukrainian soldiers, fighting there for several months already. Donetsk international airport is considered being an important strategic object for the rebels, but it remains currently under Ukrainian control, stated the press-center of an anti-terrorist operation being launched in Eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian troops still remain on the territory of Ukraine, despite the continuous calls of the representatives of the international community and demands to immediately withdraw from Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian “Information Resistance” group monitoring the situation in the zone of an anti-terrorist operation and on the borders between Ukraine and Russia reported about the extremely high concentration of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine, near the city of Shakhtarsk (Donetsk region) and also along the border with Crimea, which is currently occupied by Russia. Additional troops and military technique, including tanks and other heavy weapons, were deployed in those zones, what poses a real threat of the further escalation of the conflict and the possible attack.

It’s worth mentioning also that the fact of Russian military presence and aggression in Ukraine was acknowledged recently by PACE during its meeting over the Ukrainian crisis held on October 1 and 2. USA, EU and NATO stated about the facts and evidences of Russian military presence on the territory of Ukraine earlier.

Thus, the members of the PACE meeting over Ukrainian issue and deepening crisis in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have strongly condemned Russian military aggression in Ukraine and its continuous supports of the revels and terrorists operating in the region and demanded Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from the region, to stop supporting the rebels and to make everything possible in order to deescalate the situation in the region. The PACE members believe that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine cannot be resolved militarily and that there should be political and diplomatic means to resolve it.

Stefan Schennah, Austrian parliamentarian and head of the PACE monitoring committee, has stated in his speech that Russia has lost trust of the international community and that this trust could be restored only in case Russia will influence the pro-Russian rebels fighting in Eastern Ukraine and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. Ukraine in its turn should start the deep and wide dialogue with all the factions of society and to implement the reforms, including the lustration law.

Some of the members of PACE, including the Danish representative, called on the harsher measures to be taken against Russia, such as cancelling Russian membership in PACE. Though, there was no special resolution over Ukrainian issue, and the members of the PACE were united in condemning Russian military aggression in Ukraine and demanding Russia to start making steps in order to deescalate the conflict.

EU and USA in their turn also insist on deescalating the situation and are determined to keep strict sanctions imposed against Russia recently. These sanctions could be lifted only in case Russia will demonstrate its readiness to really participate in the process of resolving the crisis in Eastern Ukraine and de-escalation of the situation.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia have reportedly started the process of determining the 30 km buffer zone in the zone of and anti-terrorist operation, what was one of the results of the Minsk negotiations and the agreement signed by the sides. Special commission responsible for determining and marking of the buffer zone consist of Ukrainian and Russian representatives and the OSCE members.

The situation in Eastern Ukraine though remains extremely tense and difficult, with the new fighting erupting every day between Ukrainian military and National Guard and rebels, backed by the Russian military.

According to the latest UN estimations, the number of the people killed in the conflict has reached 3627, the number of those injured is 8447. These numbers include also 298 passengers of the Malaysian airplane MH17, shot down in Donetsk region on 17 July. At least 1500 people are being held captive by the DNR and LNR fighters. Five million people reside in the zone of the conflict, and more than 426 000 of them were forced to flee the region.