The statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia accusing the Ukrainian side of alleged violations of the Minsk agreements is frankly surprising. The Russian side claims that a video by the Reuters news agency depicts the Azov battalion using the D-30 howitzers near the village of Shyrokyne.
In fact, this agency's news report clearly states that the video shot in the vicinity of the Urzufvillage, which is located 45 kilometers west of Mariupol, depicts military training. Furthermore, the very fact of inviting foreign journalists to monitor the removal of heavy artillery confirms the unprecedented openness of the Ukrainian side.
Unfortunately, in its haste to utilize unverified information the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has once again misled the international community, diverting its attention from the real violations of the Minsk agreements by the militants supported by the Russia-backed militants.
Ukraine has consistently implemented the Minsk agreements. In accordance with point 2 of the Package of Measures on Implementation of the Minsk Agreements the Armed Forces of Ukraine have completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons, including artillery systems of 100 mm caliber and above as early as March 7 this year. The withdrawal of the D-30 howitzers from the area near Shyrokyne was completed on March 7, under the control of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM). After the completion of the withdrawal of heavy weapons, not a single instance was recorded where artillery, including the D-30 howitzers, had been used by the Ukrainian side.
It is significant that the OSCE SMM has not expressed any concern about any non-fulfillment by the Ukrainian side of agreements regarding the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine would like to point out that repeated ceasefire violations are being observed on the part of the Russia-backed illegal armed groups that are operating in some regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Statements by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the supposed complete withdrawal of heavy weapons by the militants have not been confirmed by the OSCE SMM. In this regard, we would like the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain the shelling of the Shyrokyne and Krymske over the last 24 hours by, respectively, 120 mm mortars and BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket systems -- weapons, which, according to the Russian side, supposedly have long since been withdrawn.
It is hoped that today's erroneous statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the result of carelessness on the part of Russian diplomats and not another attempt at the manipulation and deliberate distortion of facts. We expect that in the future the Russian Foreign Ministry will review information more carefully and will base its statements not on the Foreign Ministry's interpretation of facts but on the official findings of the OSCE monitors.