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OSCE notes failure of "school truce" in Donbas

Alexander Hug blames both parties for reluctance to comply with the ceasefire.

OSCE notes failure of "school truce" in Donbas
Photo: Photo: EPA / UPG

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has said that the intensity of shelling in Donbas suggests that neither party has been observing the so-called "school" armistice, announced on 25 August.

Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Alexander Hug, told a briefing on 1 September that on the first day of the truce, the number of violations dropped by more than half compared with the previous day – from 654 to just over 300.

On the next day, Saturday, 26 August, the number of firing incidents dropped to 47. Hug said he believed that such a pause suggests that the parties can stop shelling if they want.

However, since Sunday, the number of violations of the ceasefire regime, reported by the monitors, has started to grow again. On Sunday, there were 151 violations, on Monday 173, on Tuesday 431, and on Wednesday 186.

"Statements to the whole world about the restoration of obligations to observe the cease-fire regime must be accompanied by appropriate actions," Hug complained.

On 22 August, the leaders of the Normandy Four – French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Volodymyr Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed on a "school" ceasefire in Donbas, beginning with 25 August.

The next day, the trilateral contact group for a Donbas settlement agreed on a ceasefire in Donbas. The truce is timed to the beginning of a new school year.

On 25 August, the first day of a new truce, three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded. On 26, 27 and 28 August, the Ukrainian antiterrorist operation (ATO) HQ reported no losses. In a report on 28 August, it said that the ATO troops on four occasions opened return fire, "given the direct threat to the life of Ukrainian military".

On August 25, on the first day of a new truce, three soldiers were wounded. On Aug. 26–31, the ATO did not suffer any losses.

The Contact Group held a videoconference on August 31, during which the Ukrainian side called for doing everything to ensure that the ceasefire regime was observed from September 1.

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