Violence has increased sharply in eastern Ukraine as heavy weaponry continues to flow in violation of a cease-fire, according to a United Nations official and a truce observer.
Renewed fighting this week near the town of Marinka, which killed 28 people, raises concern that large-scale hostilities may erupt around the rebel stronghold of Donetsk despite the cease-fire reached in February, UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council in New York on Friday.
Alexander Hug, deputy chief of the special monitoring mission for the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe said the violence in Marinka may represent “a refocusing of weaponry and personnel” as seen by the continued flow of Russian-made GRAD rockets and multiple-rocket launch systems.
He did not specifically place blame on Russian or Ukrainian government forces.
Feltman said the flare-up also forced 16,000 people to flee their homes last week, adding to the already 1.3 million people displaced inside Ukraine.
“We are either looking at a return to a deepening, intractable conflict or a momentary upsurge in parts of the conflict zone,” Feltman said. “We cannot afford either scenario.”
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin blamed the Ukrainian government’s failure to carry out legal reforms recognizing the rebels’ rights, which were part of measures agreed in the cease-fire accords reached in Minsk, Belarus.
U.S. Ambassador to UN Samantha Power said “we must not let ourselves be deceived” by Russia and continue to apply pressure because “the consequences of Russia’s contempt” for the Minsk accords are too great.
Power plans to visit Kiev June 10-12, according to her spokesman, Kurtis Cooper.