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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 364
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Is The Ceasefire 'Largely Holding'? Heavy Fighting Reported In Some Areas
7 years
DNR Says They Will Only Withdraw Artillery From Line Of Contact If Ukraine Does So Simultaneously
International Concern Mounting As Attacks on Debaltsevo Escalate

In a statement issued last night, February 15, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the ceasefire was largely holding. The UN News Centre reports:

“The Secretary-General notes that the cease-fire appears to be largely holding, giving a desperately needed respite to civilians trapped in the area and contributing to a swift and peaceful resolution of the conflict,” the statement stressed.

However, it goes on to note the UN chief's “serious concern” over reports of continued instances of hostilities including in Debaltseve and reiterates his call for all parties to abide by the cease-fire “without exception.”

“The Secretary-General reminds all of the significance of the cease-fire, which forms the basis for the broader implementation of the Minsk accords and to restore peace and stability to Ukraine,” the statement concludes.

The OSCE has just sent this tweet suggesting that they agree with Moon's assessment:

That report was issued at 18:00 local time yesterday. According to that report a Major General in the Russian Federation Armed Forces said that the ceasefire was holding. However the OSCE report suggests that there have been nearly 120 ceasefire violations:

The SMM visited Soledar (77km north of Donetsk, government-controlled), where the JCCC headquarters (HQ) is currently temporarily located. Officers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russian Federation Armed Forces, and members of the “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) were present. According to the JCCC HQ log, the number of ceasefire violations for the 08:00-00:00hrs period on 14 February was 101. Almost all violations involved Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), artillery and mortars and were concentrated around Debaltseve and Donetsk airport. From 00:00-08:00hrs on 15 February there were 15 violations, all in Debaltseve or in Chornukhyne (Luhansk region, 8km east of Debaltseve, area of heavy fighting). The Russian Federation Armed Forces Major General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the JCCC, considered the ceasefire to be holding, given the significant decrease in military incidents. The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC said the effectiveness of the ceasefire would only be apparent when they could travel to Debaltseve. The SMM was given a draft copy of the Ukrainian Armed Forces proposal for a JCCC Implementation Plan. This plan will be discussed with Russian Federation Armed Forces JCCC representatives, and when a final draft is agreed, it will be sent to the General Staff of both the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces.

Other excerpts of the report suggest that civilians have been hit by rockets, possible Russian supply vehicles have been spotted on the move, and other violations were still occurring. Some excerpts:

On 14 February, the SMM spoke separately to an official from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and local police about shelling in Artemivsk (40km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) that happened the previous day. According to all interlocutors, a seven-year old boy was killed when a kindergarten was struck by a shell. A second person was also killed and another six were injured. The SMM were told by these interlocutors that houses, a factory and a school were damaged. The SMM saw several craters, unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and shrapnel consistent with a Smerch rocket (BM-30). The SMM also saw demining personnel working on unexploded cluster sub-munitions found in the ground. Three craters were analysed by the SMM and the direction of fire was established to have been from the south-east of Artemivsk.

On a road between the villages of Stepanivka and Dmitrivka, (87km east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), the SMM passed three civilian propane trucks with white Russian registration plates, travelling west with a “DPR” emergency service escort. Later, the SMM located a newly bulldozed road heading south-east from the village of Dibrivka (95km east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) that turned east towards “LPR”-controlled territory. On this road the SMM saw two civilian gasoline/diesel tankers (one without registration plates; one with Ukrainian plates) accompanied by a military-style jeep containing uniformed persons being driven south-east from Dibrivka...

n Luhansk city on 15 February, the SMM observed the arrival of the fourteenth humanitarian aid shipment from the Russian Federation. The SMM witnessed the arrival of 19 trucks at two locations (12 at a former confectionery factory and seven at the bread factory). The SMM were refused entrance by guards at the bread factory, but were given access to the confectionery factory to see the unloading and warehousing of numerous packages. Those who unloaded the goods stated that everything they offloaded was foodstuffs. According to them, medical aid and construction materials were delivered to other locations in Luhansk.

On the other hand the OSCE SMM also encountered areas where no ceasefire violations had taken place. An example:

On 15 February, at a checkpoint close to the village of Smile (30km west of Luhansk, “LPR”-controlled) “LPR” members told the SMM that they had received orders from their commander to comply with the ceasefire. They told the SMM that onward travel towards Lysychansk should be avoided due to safety reasons. Later, in the town of Frunze (46km north-west of Luhansk, “LPR”-controlled), the commander of a checkpoint told SMM that during the night of 14-15 February there was no shelling.

What the Ukrainian military is reporting, however, does not sound like a ceasefire. Here are some key excerpts from today's briefing from the National Security and Defense Council:

This morning we carried two reports from Debaltsevo and one from Shirokeno, near Mariupol, which suggest that the ceasefire is being regularly violated in some areas. According to CNN, Dmytro Chalov, a spokesman for a sector of the Ukrainian army, is reporting that mortar fire has hit areas around Mariupol.

Alex Thomson, of the UK's Channel 4 News, is in the area of Donetsk airport, and he's not masking his own opinion on whether the ceasefire is taking hold:

-- James Miller