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Donbas ceasefire not observed, number of shelling attacks growing every day – Intl Monitoring Mission

KYIV. Sept 15 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The ceasefire regime in Donbas is not respected, the number of attacks and their intensity is growing every day, said Kostiantin Reutsky, executive director of the East SOS charitable organization, a member of the International Monitoring Mission from Ukraine.

"Our preliminary conclusion is that the truce, in fact, exists only on paper. After a short lull in early summer, shelling resumed, their number and intensity is growing every day," Reutsky said at a press conference in Kyiv on Wednesday.

He stressed that shelling is constantly taking place along almost the entire contact line.

"If until recently there was a relative lull in Luhansk region (and for a long time), now in Luhansk region, Russian proxies, using weapons prohibited not only by the terms of this truce, but generally by the Minsk agreements, are launching shelling attacks on settlements," Reutsky said.

According to him, many local residents say that there has not been such an intense shelling since 2014-2015.

In addition, Reutsky pointed out, the tactics of conducting shelling by Russia-occupation forces has also changed.

"If all three previous years the shelling was localized by forward military positions, now we are seeing Russian proxies shelling targets deep in the rear of the Ukrainian army. Yes, these are mostly military targets, but these are not the firing positions of the Ukrainian army, these are the locations of command posts of the Ukrainian army deep in the rear, sometimes five, seven or even ten kilometers from the front line," he explained.

The executive director of East SOS noted that this leads to the fact that both housing estates and civilian infrastructure are under fire, and because of this, the number of civilian casualties is also growing alarmingly.

In addition, he drew attention to the fact that the Russian side and Russia-led forces artificially create conditions that do not allow Ukrainians from the occupied territories to communicate with Ukrainians from the free territories of Donbas.

"It is because of this that the movement across the contact line is as limited as possible," he said.

At the same time, Reutsky said that the social and humanitarian situation in recent years in the part of Donbas controlled by Ukraine had noticeably improved.

"But the Ukrainian government still has something to work with. Many aspects require improvement, and this will have a very positive effect on the reintegration of the occupied territories," he added.

Evija Djatkoviča, a participant of the International Monitoring Mission from Latvia, indicated that the mission became a direct witness to the fact that the truce is regularly violated.

Djatkoviča said that they were in Triokhizbenka, in Verkhniotoretske, in Zolote at a time when shelling was really taking place there. They stated that the shelling attacks take place not only in the evening, but also in the afternoon, early in the morning. That is, there is no systematic approach, at any moment one can become a victim of the situation," she said.

In turn, member of the International Monitoring Mission from the Czech Republic, David Stulik, stressed that the mission associates the increase in the number of shelling attacks with the elections to the State Duma of Russia, as well as the joint Belarusian-Russian exercises West (Zapad) 2021.

Stulik explained that whenever such events occur, of course, it is important for the Kremlin to divert attention from domestic problems and show not only Ukraine, but also Ukraine’s Western allies that "they are there and Russian interests must be reckoned with."

He noted that he also partially connects this with the summit of the Crimea Platform, the celebration of Ukraine’s Independence Day and the meeting of Presidents of Ukraine and the United States, Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden.

Stulik explained that these are attempts to raise rates on the part of Russia, and this mainly affects the domestic consumer in Russia.