The military of the Ukrainian national battalions fired the Oktyabrsky settlement in Donetsk the night on Sunday, where a gas pipeline was damaged, the Donetsk News Agency reported on Sunday.
“At about 23:30, the Ukrainian military opened fire on the Oktyabrsky settlement, where one house burned down and a gas pipeline was damaged,” a source at the defence ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) told the Agency. Simultaneously with that, they fired on the Zaitsevo settlement in Gorlovka, using mortars and small guns.
Kiev’s commanders of the force mission in Donbass, in their turn, accused DPR of shelling their positions near Spartak, Opytnoye and Peski from 82mm mortars and small guns.
According to the agreement reached at peace talks in the Belarusian capital city Minsk, a complete ceasefire was declared on the contact line in Ukraine’s south-eastern Donbass region starting from September 1, however, the Ukrainian forces have systematically violated it. In particular, they regularly shell the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka. The DPR Defence Ministry said previously that the situation in the republic has recently worsened. The number of shelling attacks on the northern and western outskirts of Donetsk and on the city suburbs has dramatically increased over the past month.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
On September 29, a supplement to the Package of Measures on Implementing the Minsk Agreements from 12 February 2015 was agreed at a meeting of the Contact Group on settlement the Ukrainian crisis, which was organised in Minsk. The supplement envisages withdrawal of tanks, artillery weapons of less than 100mm calibre, and mortars of equal to or less than 120mm calibre to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line in Donbass. On September 30, the document was signed by DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko and LPR (Lugansk People’s Republic) head Igor Plotnitsky. In accordance with the reached agreement, tanks are withdrawn first, followed by artillery weapons of less than 100mm calibre and mortars. The first stage should start two days after the complete ceasefire and finish in 15 days. The second stage will take 24 days to complete, the parties agreed. The withdrawal was to begin in the “North” sector on the LPR territory and to continue in the “South” sector in DPR. The whole process of withdrawal was expected to take a total of 41 days.
Recent Normandy Four format talks
On October 2, leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine held talks in Paris in the so-called Normandy format. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the leaders discussed implementation of the Minsk Agreements, including withdrawal of armaments, elections, amnesty, gas issues and other crises, including air services. The Kremlin spokesman confirmed that the Minsk peace deal has no alternative.
On November 6, the Normandy Four foreign ministers agreed that humanitarian situation in Donbass is not improving, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his counterparts from Germany, France and Ukraine in the Normandy format.