In in an interview with the German newspaper Bild, when asked about the OSCE SMM reports, according to which both the illegal armed groups and the Ukrainian army have been firing in the Donbas, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said that Ukraine has the right to open fire in its own territory.
“Of course the Ukrainians are shooting too, but you should bear in mind that all of this is taking place in Ukraine’s territory. It is completely normal for countries to keep soldiers in their own country. And it is not normal for one country to deploy its soldiers in another country. This is the situation in eastern Ukraine. Ceasefire violations are also taking place on the Ukrainian side. But the overwhelming majority and the most serious violations are taking place in the Russian-occupied territory,” he said.
Furthermore, Volker explained that the type of ceasefire violation should be taken into account.
“Don’t forget what the OSCE considers a ceasefire violation. If you are defending the villages of your country, and you fall under mortar fire, that is one violation. If you then shoot in the direction the fire came from, that is also a violation. This is the nature of the phrase ‘both sides’. It is quite accurate, but it also distorts the nature of the problem,” he added.
When talking about the situation in the separatist-controlled Donbas territory, Volker remarked that the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) are not free societies.
“The fact that people do not protest does not mean they are happy. Virtually everyone is disappointed, not only in the local bands and in Russia, which supports them, but also in Kyiv, which does not rescue them,” Volker commented.
In the middle of May, Volker visited the Donbas and said that he is prepared to visit Donetsk and Luhansk once they have been liberated from the militants.