The spiral of ever increasing violence in Eastern Ukraine needs to stop. The fighting provoked by the continued separatist offensive, notably around Debaltseve, is causing great human suffering and undermines all efforts aimed at a political solution. The shelling of civilians, wherever it happens, is a grave violation of international humanitarian law. Artillery should immediately be withdrawn from residential areas.
Residents of Ukraine's Donbas strive to flee the region and the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen dramatically in the coldest period of the year. Civilians need to be able to leave the conflict zone safely. I join the call by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on all actors in and around the Debaltseve area to establish a local temporary truce for a minimum of three days, taking immediate effect.