Vienna, July 5, 2018
The so-called bread truce agreed by the Contact Group on June 27 offers yet another chance to achieve a peaceful settlement of the intra-Ukrainian civilian conflict. The overall number of ceasefire violations has declined. However, the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue shelling Gorlovka, Debaltsevo and Donetsk. They are seeking to conquer the grey areas. On July 1, SMM monitors confirmed that the Ukrainian military had taken over Zolotoye-4, having found two armoured troop transporters and soldiers on the territory of an administrative building there. All this undermines efforts to achieve peace.
The adventurous efforts by the Ukrainian leadership to reintegrate Donbass by force lead to more civilian victims. According to the SMM, two civilians were wounded in Yasinovataya and Dokuchaevsk, and buildings were damaged in Kominternovo, Dokuchaevsk and Zolotoye-5 between June 20 and July 3 during artillery fire coming from places where the Ukrainian Armed Forces are deployed. Dokuchaevsk came under fire in the evening of July 1, after the “bread truce” came into force. All in all, 18 civilians were killed and 91 were wounded in militia-held territories in 2018. Every new victim only brings us closer to a point of no return in terms of restoring peace in Ukraine.
The implementation of the 2016 Framework Agreement on the Disengagement of Forces and Weapons must be resumed without delay by completing the disengagement in three pilot areas: Petrovskoye, Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya, and agreeing on new ones. The Kiev military are still present in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye disengagement areas, and refuse to abide by the agreement in Stanitsa Luganskaya.
Efforts to promote de-escalation in the problem areas along the line of contact could pave the way to resuming the withdrawal of heavy weapons. So far, the situation there has been quite explosive. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have been concentrating their military equipment there. Between June 20 and July 3, the SMM detected 78 weapons of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in breach of the Package of Measures, 101 military vehicles beyond the withdrawal lines, and vast mine fields in Nelepovka and Lebedinskoye. The SMM also reported that 431 weapons were missing from the army warehouses. The actual situation may be even worse. Speaking at a briefing in Vienna on July 4, Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug showed a map of long-range UAV flights whereby monitoring is mainly carried out outside of militia-held areas. We expect the SMM to address this imbalance in the near future, since it undermines impartiality when monitoring compliance with the Minsk Package of Measures by military equipment.
Outside forces aspiring to the role of mediators in the settlement do nothing but exacerbate warmongering and revanchist sentiment in Kiev. Having supplied Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, the US has launched deliveries of heavy machine guns. Manufacturing of weapon stations to be installed on light armoured vehicles is about to be launched at one of Ukroboronprom’s factories under a bilateral agreement between Ukraine and the US. The US is directly responsible for the consequences of these thoughtless steps.