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Ukraine ceasefire holding despite ‘violations’
February 22, 2017, 9:44 am

A pro-Russian rebel is laid to rest at a makeshift funeral during a lull in shelling in Donetsk last year [Xinhua]

International groups monitoring the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine said on Wednesday that there have been over 200 violations in the first night the cessation of hostilities began but added that fighting has decreased.

“What we see is in various areas a continued ‘kinetic activity,’ as we call it, with light weapons mainly used, but in some cases also explosives, which means that they’re also using mortars or some other heavier weapons that are a violation of (the) ceasefire,” Lamberto Zannier, the secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the conflict.

Zannier said he was waiting for confirmation Wednesday that heavy weapons had been withdrawn by both the Ukraine army and pro-Moscow separatists.

The withdrawal of heavy weapons is a key component of the Minsk peace protocol signed two years to end the conflict there.

Earlier this month, heavy shelling in eastern Ukraine shattered a fragile two-year ceasefire causing dozens of deaths and wounded among civilians and soldiers. Although there have been violations in the past, the latest round of fighting near the Ukraine government-held town of Avdeyevka (or Avdiivka) has been the most critical.

Avdeyevka is 16 kilometeres north of rebel-held Donetsk and 50 kilometers south of Lugansk.

The latest ceasefire – agreed to by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich – comes after at least 30 civilians were reportedly killed.

Kiev blames pro-Russian rebels – the self-claimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) – of killing a soldier hours after the ceasefire went into effect on Monday.

But a spokesperson for the DPR says that there has been no fighting.

Zannier says that the situation is fluid and confused.

“We will have to keep pushing both sides,” he said.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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