We have some good news.
There was a modest reduction in ceasefire violations and the local ceasefire at Stanytsia Luhanska is holding.
June 17th to 30th.
Ceasefire Violations – 14,350. This is down 350 from prev 2 weeks.
This is firing along the front line, but some is from live firing exercises at army bases close to the front line.
Weapons Violations – 134. Total of 125 of them are in areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government (Occupied Ukraine). These are heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and other hardware seen within the prescribed security zones.
The Minsk 2 agreement (Feb 2015) signed up to by both Russia & Ukraine, it states…
Apart from 100mm calibre artillery, all heavy weapons should be withdrawn from the front line and a security zone of a minimum 50 kilometers created. This area should not contain any heavy weapons. The Security zone is extended to 70 kilometers for multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and 140 kilometers for more powerful MLRS, such as Uragan & Smerch, and tactical missile systems.
Stanytsia Luhanska Bridge Crossing.
As I reported last week, there’s been an agreement by both sides to withdraw their forces from around the Stanytsia Luhanska civilian crossing point. In Ukraine’s Luhansk region, currently both sides are dismantling their military positions/barricades, demining and generally clearing up the area. Over the last week the OSCE has reported things are quiet, with no reported firing in the immediate area. So fingers crossed it stays that way.
With the bridge having been blown up by Russia’s forces, people are forced to use two wholly unsuitable wooden ramps (see above pic). With thousands of people using the checkpoint crossing every week, and with many of them elderly and infirm, these steep, flimsy ramps pose quite a challenge. A challenge which has taken a heavy toll. With long tiring hours spent trying to pass through each sides checkpoints, coupled with harsh freezing winters and hot summers, a good many elderly have succumbed to the pressure and unfortunately died from heart attacks.
But things maybe about to improve.
Accompanied by the President of the European Council Donald Tusk (blue shirt, arms folded), yesterday Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (grey top, arms folded) visited Stanytsia Luhanska. There to hear about how the ceasefire is holding and progress with the withdrawal, Zelenskyy said, dependent on whether Russia’s forces keep to the ceasefire and agreed withdrawal lines, he talked about the possibility of “quickly” rebuilding the bridge. So fingers crossed again.
Getting an appreciation of the various types of Russian shells previously fired at Ukraine held areas around the bridge.
Touring the area. Both presidents talked to the OSCE, Ukrainian military and humanitarian organisations which have a permanent presence at this extremely busy crossing.
More info on the visit via Ukraine’s Defence Ministry website.