KYIV (QHA) -

The parties to the conflict on the Donbas do not withdraw heavy weapons and do not carry out the work on mine clearance in their parts of the security zone due to mistrust and fear that the enemy will regard this as weakness and take advantage of the situation to advance their own positions.

Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine made a corresponding statement during a Skype connection with the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre from the vicinity of the occupied Novoazovsk, QHA correspondent reports.

Thus, the OSCE SMM counted 57 units of heavy weapons deployed with violation of withdrawal lines last week, of which 44 were in uncontrolled districts and 13 were in government-controlled areas.

In particular, Hug demonstrated a photo in which the SMM UAV recorded two self-propelled howitzers near the non-controlled Zernove settlement, which ought to be at least 25 km from the contact line. In another photo, SMM demonstrated 4 howitzers stationed in violation of Minsk agreements in areas under the control of the Ukrainian government.

According to Hug, the parties do not fulfill their obligations under the Minsk agreements, fearing that the enemy will not only fail to undertake similar actions, but instead will use the mine clearance and the withdrawal of heavy weapons to advance their own situation.

“Ceasefire is only partially observed, the parties refuse to withdraw arms and carry out demining as they cannot be sure that the other side will do the same. They are afraid that the other side will regard this compliance with obligations as weakness.”

However, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM noted that recently the security situation in the conflict zone has improved, in particular, the number of shelling has significantly decreased. Although from time to time the Mission records sharp escalation outbreaks.

“Since July 1 - the beginning of the "Harvest ceasefire", the level of violence has decreased. Most of the time is relatively quiet, but sometimes it seems like hell. For example, on Sunday we recorded 400 violations of the ceasefire. And over the past week more than 4,000 such cases have been recorded.”

Alexander Hug also reproached militants of illegal armed groups for the intensified obstruction to the Mission’s work, especially in the southern areas of the occupied Donetsk region and areas adjacent to the uncontrolled section of the Russian-Ukrainian border in the occupied Luhansk region. Hug once again recalled that the decision on the safe and unhindered access of SMM to the entire territory of Ukraine was approved by 57 OSCE member states, and this decision must be implemented. He also noted that on August 3, the militants did not allow the patrol with his participation either in Novoazovsk or in Sedove, where the SMM cannot get for more than a month.

QHA