Kiev, Kremlin accuse each other for violating New Year ceasefire


VIENNA: The Ukrainian armed forces have not fulfilled their obligations and violated the truce in Donbass, Russia’s OSCE Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich told a session of the OSCE Permanent Council.

“Kiev security forces once again failed to fulfil their obligations and violated the “New Year armistice”. A number of settlements were under fire, there are victims and destruction,” he said.

According to him, the orders of the Ukrainian Armed Forces not to open fire were not made public, it was done in Donetsk and Lugansk, and the militants of nationalist armed groups are present near the contact line.

Lukashevich added that Ukrainian units in three weeks of the “New Year armistice” restricted the freedom of movement of the observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Donbass 71 times.

“Out of 104 cases of restricting the freedom of movement of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission for in weeks of the New Year armistice, 71 cases occurred on the territory under the control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Lukashevich said.

He noted that the mission’s falsifying data on restrictions on the movement of observers to play along with one of the parties to the conflict is unacceptable.

Since midnight of December 23 last year, a “New Year armistice” has been established in Donbass, however, Donbass defence departments continue to record shelling by the Ukrainian military.

On the other hand, the Anit-Terrorist Operation Zone headquarter (ATO HQ) said on Facebook on Friday, “despite the mutual adherence to the ceasefire throughout the day, the Russian occupation forces resorted to insidious provocation after dark and shelled positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, using weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements”.

Read also ATO HQ reveals militants’ plan to shell own positions, civilians on both sides of contact line in the Luhansk sector, the enemy fired 82mm mortars at the Ukrainian fortified positions near the town of Schastia.

In addition, the Ukrainian positions near the village of Luhanske came under 120mm mortar fire. “One soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was injured during engineer operations in the Donetsk sector. He was rushed to a military hospital and provided with the necessary medical assistance. There is no danger to his life. Military doctors describe his condition as satisfactory,” the ATO HQ said.

‘No peace talks’:

Earlier on Friday, a top Ukrainian separatist leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, said he would not push for new peace talks with Kiev and warned that his forces were launching an offensive aimed at expanding their control.

“Our side will no longer push for any more truce talks. There will be no ceasefire anymore. We are going to advance to the very border of Donetsk province,” Russian news agencies quoted the Donetsk rebel chief as saying.

This week, Kiev reported an alleged new tacit deployment of Russian troops into the war zone that enabled the insurgents to push Ukrainian troops out of a long-disputed airport in the rebel stronghold city of Donetsk.

EU might up pressure on Russia over Ukraine:

Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, who has a lead role in EU diplomacy, said on Friday new violence in eastern Ukraine was jeopardizing a ceasefire deal with Russia and warned the EU might look at new measures to penalize Moscow.

“If Russia does not implement or does not agree to implement those agreements, in that case, I believe we will have to look at the EU level at what kind of additional pressure we can also have,” Rinkevics said.

Putin blames Kiev for fighting and deaths of civilians:

Russian President Vladimir Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of ordering a major new offensive against rebels in eastern Ukraine. He blamed on Friday what he said were Kiev’s “criminal orders” for a surge in fighting in east Ukraine in which civilians have been killed.

Furthermore, Putin claimed Ukraine had not responded to a proposal he made in a letter to President Petro Poroshenko to withdraw heavy weapons from the demarcation line as a step towards implementing a ceasefire.