Ukraine Day 811: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Ukraine right now is seeing a reduction in violence for two key reasons — the Orthodox Easter holiday, and the May 8 and 9 celebrations commemorating the end of World War II. At the noon briefing, the Ukrainian military reported Sunday that there had only been 12 ceasefire violations committed by the Russian-backed fighters, down sharply from recent weeks.
The US mission to the OSCE is not mincing words, however — they are firmly accusing Russia of breaking the ceasefire and perpetuating the violence:
There is a clear correlation between ceasefire violations, the presence of proscribed weapons, and efforts to limit the SMM’s access to parts of the conflict zone, as Chief Monitor Apakan said last week. Separatist forces are responsible for more than five times as many weapons-withdrawal violations as the Ukrainian government, and combined Russian-separatist forces are responsible for more than 90 percent of instances of denied or delayed access for SMM monitors. Ensuring SMM access throughout the conflict zone is essential to maintain a genuine, lasting ceasefire and restore the confidence needed to facilitate Minsk implementation. In the Permanent Council, the Russian Federation has failed to endorse the SMM’s unrestricted access to all parts of the conflict zone, and continues to claim falsely that the SMM has adequate access to areas under separatist control, including along the international border. If we are to have confidence that Russia and the separatists it backs are committed to Minsk implementation, not military aggression, the SMM must have full, unconditional access to the border.
Despite restrictions that combined Russian-separatist forces have imposed on the SMM, monitors have found clear evidence of violations of the Minsk agreements, including an alarming trend in which combined Russian-separatist forces place heavy weapons in civilian areas, including near schools and hospitals. The SMM reported the presence of a growing arsenal of heavy weapons in separatist-held Luhansk city, including tanks, howitzers, armored combat vehicles, and surface-to-air missile systems.
At the same time that combined Russian-separatist forces threaten civilians by using residential areas as firing positions, they bar humanitarian organizations from delivering aid to people living in the territory they control. Recent outbreaks of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain untreated because humanitarian actors cannot reach people in need who live in separatist-controlled areas, as the Chair of the Trilateral Contact Group’s humanitarian working group briefed last week to OSCE participating States. Normandy format Foreign Ministers agreed in October 2015 that aid organizations must have access throughout Donetsk and Luhansk. The humanitarian consequences of the conflict are dire for the two million people who have been displaced by the fighting and the three million people still living in the conflict zone.
Read the whole statement here:
On Russia's Ongoing Violations in Ukraine: Statement to the PC | U.S. Mission to the OSCE
The United States welcomes the announcement of the renewed ceasefire in recognition of Orthodox Easter. While fighting has diminished, combined Russian-separatist forces continue attacks on Ukrainian positions, which have resulted in several Ukrainian casualties since the ceasefire went into effect.
In statements on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also firmly stated who he held responsible for the war in the Donbass:
“This war was unleashed by the Russian aggressor state, and the sin of manslaughter is borne entirely by them, who, with their imperial psychosis and bloody hands, have started this murderous war,” the president said.
Murderous war in Donbas unleashed by Russia "imperial psychosis and bloody hands" – Poroshenko
Murderous war in Donbas has been unleashed by Russia's "imperial psychosis and bloody hands," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said during the opening of "Mothers of Heroes" photo exhibition in the Museum of History of Ukraine in World War II in Kyiv, according to an UNIAN correspondent.