WORLD / EUROPE
Truce violations in conflict in eastern Ukraine increase topping year high
Published: Apr 15, 2021 07:08 PM
International observers monitoring the  conflict in eastern Ukraine have documented a sharp uptick in violations of peace agreements as Western countries sound the alarm over a buildup of ­Russian troops on the border.

Kiev has been fighting the rebels in two breakaway regions in the east of the country since 2014 when Moscow absorbed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

Ukraine this week accused Russia of massing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders and a recent increase in fighting has upended a cease-fire agreement last year that had brought relative calm to the conflict.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement late Wednesday that there had been a dramatic increase in recent violations that was hindering their work.

"The number of violations recorded over the past two weeks has reached its highest level this year and was three times higher than over the same period before," the OSCE said. 

"The last two weeks have also seen a significant increase in restrictions and impediments to the freedom of movement" of the OSCE's special monitoring mission.

The monitoring group added that nine out of 10 of its long-range drone flights were affected by jamming.

Fighting escalated at the start of the year, with Moscow and Kiev blaming each other for the rise in violence between Ukrainian government forces and the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev says at least 28 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and 68 wounded since January. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to prop up the rebels - claims that Moscow denies.

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in a phone call Wednesday to appeal Russia to reduce the number of troops on the border, saying it would help bring a "de-escalation" of the tensions.

Foreign ministers of the three former Soviet Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were due Thursday to give a joint press conference in Kiev.


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