Monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have reported a sharp escalation in ceasefire violations along the frontlines dividing Ukrainian and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.
The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine reported in their latest daily bulletin that in the 24 hours until 7:30 p.m. local time on Feb. 16, they recorded 189 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region, including 128 explosions.
In the previous reporting period, it recorded 24 ceasefire violations in the region. In Luhansk region, the mission recorded 402 ceasefire violations, including 188 explosions, when in the previous reporting period, it recorded 129 ceasefire violations in the region.
The SMM reported that a member of the armed formations [separatist forces] threatened an SMM patrol at a training area in the Luhansk region.
“The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a heavy weapons holding area in a government-controlled area of Luhansk region, at a permanent storage site and a heavy weapons holding area in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region, and at a training area in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region,” it said.
“Its unmanned aerial vehicles again encountered instances of GPS signal interference, assessed as caused by probable jamming," it continued.
The violations continued on Thursday. A resident of the city of Donetsk — which is controlled by the separatists — told CNN that shelling in her district had been the heaviest in two years. There was no clarity on where that fire had originated from.
The OSCE said that on Thursday as a result of "allegations of civilian casualties and damage to civilian properties and infrastructure sites over the past 24 hours, the Mission rerouted a number of its patrols in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including to a kindergarten and a railway station in Stanitsya Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk)."
The kindergarten was hit by artillery fire early Thursday. Two people suffered minor injuries, according to Ukrainian authorities.
Both sides in the conflict accused the other of ceasefire violations Thursday. The Ukrainian defense ministry said that as of 2 p.m. local time Thursday its forces recorded "34 ceasefire violations committed by the Russian occupation forces, 28 of which by using weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements."
The Donetsk People's Republic said Thursday that "Since the beginning of the current day, Ukrainian militants have violated the ceasefire 22 times.”