Kiev’s delegation is blocking any agreements on the proposed ceasefire control mechanism, needed for achieving a truce in the eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, a spokesperson for the delegation of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to the Contact Group, Maria Kovshar, said on Tuesday.
"Adoption of a coordinated project to restore the work of a coordination mechanism, which has been discussed during the past few sessions could facilitate de-escalation. Regretfully, Ukraine continues to demonstrate total reluctance to work on a practical document of this kind. Instead of concrete proposals on improving the coordination mechanism, Kiev has been trying to erode the contents of the project for three hours," the LPR delegation to the contact group said via its Telegram channel, TASS reports.
Kovshar said that Kiev has prevented consent on the coordination mechanism by refusing to engage in direct contacts with the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) within the framework of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC), ignoring the fact that this form of cooperation is envisaged by the additional ceasefire control measures in place since last July.
Meanwhile, official representative of the DPR delegation to the Contact Group’s security subgroup, Alexei Nikonorov, said that in order to avoid direct contacts with the DPR and LPR, Kiev has been trying to engage members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) into this dialogue.
"The Ukrainian side has been rejecting all verification initiatives that we propose, while at the same time making no suggestions of its own. Instead, Kiev representatives continue to engage the OSCE SMM into all processes and mechanisms of interaction between the sides, thus eroding the essence of the document and liability of the sides," he said.
During a meeting of the security subgroup, DPR and LPR said that situation in the contact line zone continues to deteriorate. The growing escalation was confirmed by an OSCE SMM coordinator.
According to the LPR delegation, the Ukrainian side attempted to block any constructive discussion during the economic subgroup’s meeting as well. Kiev delegates rejected all initiatives voiced by the Donbass republics, but failed to put forward any alternatives. Therefore, Tuesday’s meeting of the Contact Group’s political and humanitarian subgroups ended with no result, diplomats said.
The Contact Group will convene on Wednesday, May 19.
The Contact Group on settling the situation in eastern Ukraine has introduced additional measures since July 27, 2020 to control the ceasefire in Donbass.
Under the agreement, the Donbass conflicting parties are banned from carrying out offensive, reconnaissance and subversive operations, using any types of aircraft, opening fire and deploying heavy weapons in populated localities. One of the key provisions is the use of disciplinary measures for ceasefire violations. Furthermore, the retaliatory fire in the case of an offensive is allowed only after the commander's direct order.
Tensions in Donbass surged at the end of February, as exchanges of gunfire involving mortars and grenade launchers were registered daily despite the agreement on additional measures to secure a ceasefire dated July 22, 2020.
Serious gun battles have resumed on the line of contact, with both sides reporting casualties and wounded. Ukraine accused the Donbass republics of this de-escalation. In turn, the self-proclaimed republics stated that the reason for this flare-up was Kiev’s non-adherence to the July agreements.
Dmitry Kozak, deputy chief of the Russian presidential staff, told reporters in April that the agreements signed on July 22, 2020 approved additional ceasefire measures, with its key element being cooperation between the parties to the conflict in the Joint Center for Ceasefire Control and Coordination (JCCC).
According to Kozak, representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Donbass militia were expected to interact directly to promptly respond to ceasefire violations, verify them and effectively prevent escalation of fire. Kozak pointed out that Ukraine had signed these agreements but was doing everything possible to avoid their practical implementation.