"The TCG that includes the representatives of the “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” (“DPR”/“LPR”) underscores the need for peace and tranquility amid forthcoming Christmas and New Year holidays. Taking into account previous agreements and commitments undertaken by the parties, the TCG confirms its support for a comprehensive, sustained, and indefinite cease-fire starting at midnight on Dec. 23, 2017 Kyiv time. It also confirmed commitment to release the prisoners before the Christmas and New Year holidays in line with previous agreements. The parties also advocated the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
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"The Ukrainian side was outraged by the Russian Federation’s unilateral decision to withdraw its observers from the JCCC (Joint Center for Control and Coordination of cease-fire in the Donbas). We consider this move a violation of obligations Russia has undertaken during talks in the Normandy format and Minsk peaceful process. This decision considerably scales up the risk of the conflict escalation and jeopardizes the security of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) observers in the Donbas. As a party to the conflict, the Russian Federation is fully responsible for further developments and security of the OSCE SMM observers monitoring the part of the Donbas beyond control of the Ukrainian government. The Ukrainian members of the JCCC will continue monitoring as usually in conjunction with the OSCE SMM observers. We will continue making every effort to provide security to the mission personnel.
"Such actions of the Russian Federation triggered escalation in the security situation: the cease-fire is being infringed; there is a disturbing trend by the illegal armed groups of the ‘DPR’/‘LPR’ to resume bombardments of towns and villages. Zaitseve village was hit by 20 rockets launched with BM-21 Grad MLRS on Dec. 19 alone while 40 Grad missiles hit Novoluhanske on Dec. 18. The missile strike on Novoluhanske inflicted injuries to eight local residents; damaged 38 houses, nine high-rise apartment blocks, kindergarten, school, ambulance station; left half of the village without energy due to damaged power transmission line; gas pipeline was partially damaged as well.
"The humanitarian subgroup held a videoconference on Dec. 18 - the efforts to release the hostages are being taken 24/7," Olifer said.