The increase in ceasefire violations along the line of contact in recent days is highly concerning. We condemn the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, which constitute clear violation of the Minsk agreements.
We have noted the announcement of the leaders of the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk to evacuate the region’s residents to Russia as a so-called precautionary measure in anticipation of a possible Ukrainian attack. We do not see any grounds for these allegations and urge Russia to use its influence over the self-proclaimed republics to encourage restraint and contribute to de-escalation.
We are concerned that staged incidents could be misused as a pretext for possible military escalation.
We welcome the OSCE Special Representative’s attempt today to convene an extraordinary session of the Trilateral Contact Group in order to defuse tensions and to address the current situation. We express our regret that the de facto representatives of the self-proclaimed republics have declined to join this meeting.
We continue to express our grave concern about Russia’s massive build-up of armed forces in and around Ukraine and call on Russia to contribute to de-escalation by a substantial withdrawal of military forces from the proximity of Ukraine’s borders.