Ukraine on brink of more fighting and tension is high, OSCE warns

A Ukrainian serviceman patrols at the humanitarian aid centre in Avdiivka. Credit: AP / Evgeniy Maloletka
  • By John Angier, ITV News Senior Foreign Editor

The front line in eastern Ukraine is on the brink of more outbreaks of fighting despite the lull of the last few days, according to a senior international monitor.

Alexander Hug, of the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine, spoke to ITV News in the town of Avdiivka, which was subjected to heavy shelling last week as Ukrainian government forces clashed with Russian-backed separatists.

The sound of artillery fire could still be heard across Avdiivka today, but the intensity of the fighting has diminished. Power has been restored to most of the town, averting a growing humanitarian crisis.

Mr Hug, the OSCE’s Principal Deputy Chief Monitor, said tension remained high because both sides had moved heavy weapons into the area, in breach of the Minsk II peace agreement signed two years ago.

He said: "Ever since the tensions have increased here the sides have moved in military hardware, heavy weapons close to the contact line. These weapons are still in place and positions on both sides are far too close, this leads to a permanent state of tension.

"At the moment the sides are holding down fire but the root cause of the presence of heavy weapons and the close proximity has not been dealt with and this leads to permanent fighting and the fighting affects the civilian areas here significantly."