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Monitor Says Ukraine Cease-Fire, Weapons Withdrawal Not Being Honored

A destroyed Ukrainian tank on the front line near Avdiyivka
A destroyed Ukrainian tank on the front line near Avdiyivka

The head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has said there are still "significant" violations of the cease-fire in Ukraine and "no evidence" that either side is withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line as agreed last week.

"There are still a significant number of violations of the cease-fire, so it's not really quiet...And they have no evidence of the withdrawal of weapons," Lamberto Zannier, the organization's secretary-general, said at a press conference in New York on February 21 after he briefed the United Nations Security Council on the conflict.

"We will have to keep pushing both sides" to secure compliance, he said.

Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed separatists had appeared to be respecting the new cease-fire attempt earlier in the week, with each side acknowledging that the other was complying.

However, Zannier told the Reuters news agency that the situation remains "confused" and he sees the potential for a restart of another intense phase of combat.

Last week's cease-fire agreement was the latest effort to carry out the 2015 Minsk peace protocol, which has failed repeatedly to bring about peace since it was signed two years ago.

Zannier said that, beyond the problems with getting a cease-fire to hold in Ukraine, "the larger picture remains problematic" in Europe, with a new "Cold War mentality" setting in, but without the mechanisms for dealing with potential crises that existed during the Cold War.

"There's no real reconciliation, no trust. Relationships between Russia and the West remain strongly visceral," he said. "There was dialogue during the Cold War which resulted in a number of things...Now this dialogue doesn't really exist" and has been replaced by accusations being hurled from one side to the other.

"The tools we have are not really working as well as they should to intervene in a crisis situation, to ensure potential crises didn't turn into conflicts," he said.

With reporting by Reuters

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