Time is running out in Eastern Ukraine where the escalation of fighting has caused far too many civilian as well as military casualties.
Yesterday at least eight civilians were killed at a bus stop in Donetsk. Those responsible for the recent escalation must now show that they are serious about their commitment to a political settlement and do their utmost to halt the spiral of violence, including by withdrawing heavy weapons without delay and by respecting the line of contact as foreseen in the Minsk Memorandum. We call notably on Russia to fully assume its responsibility. Public statements distorting the reality on the ground, inciting to hatred and further violence will not lead to the badly needed de-escalation.
International humanitarian law, including as regards the treatment of prisoners, must be respected. The public parading of prisoners in Donetsk yesterday clearly violated such standards.
The EU stands fully behind the efforts towards a political solution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, including the meeting earlier this week of the Ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Berlin. We expect the Trilateral Contact Group to convene as soon as possible, with participation of all signatories of the Minsk agreements. The cessation of hostilities should be the first step towards full and swift implementation of the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014 as the basis for a sustainable political solution respecting Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.