Ukrainian armed forces are withdrawing rocket launchers from eastern Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk peace agreements on March 6, 2015. (Xinhua/SIPA)
KIEV, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Tuesday that there is a risk that the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine may escalate.
"Everywhere we observe an indication that the sides are preparing to continue the conflict or even escalate it," Alexander Hug, deputy chief monitor of the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine, said in a video statement.
Over the past several days, the OSCE monitors witnessed the conflicting parties in eastern Ukraine making new trenches, laying new landmines and building up their weapons, Hug said.
"Instead of withdrawing weapons, disengaging and de-mining, it seems the sides are in fact doing the opposite," he said.
The failure of the parties to comply with the declared ceasefire has led to civilian casualties in the past week, Hug said, adding that one person was killed and another injured when a civilian bus crossing the contact line was hit by small-arms fire.
The conflict between government troops and pro-independence insurgents in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014 and has killed more than 10,000 people so far.
On Dec. 20, 2017, the Trilateral Contact Group for settling the Ukraine crisis reached an agreement for a ceasefire starting from Dec. 23 for civilians to be able to celebrate the winter holidays.
More than 300 previous rounds of truce attempts have failed, with the two sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations.