OSCE states decrease of fighting in the ATO area 

OSCE states decrease of fighting in the ATO area 
September 02, 2015.

Kyiv, September 2, 2014. The situation along the contact line remains tense although the fighting has significantly decreased since the end of the last week. On August 29, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) observed only one ceasefire violation in the Donetsk region and none in the Luhansk region. The relative period of calm followed the last week’s trilateral group meeting in Minsk, said Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The SMM could not verify the complete ceasefire on September 1, stating that the monitors registered over 30 explosions in the area of the destroyed Donetsk airport. Over the last week, 406 explosions were registered with weekly high of 157 explosions on August 27.

Hug stated that fighting continues, especially around Starohnativka, northeast of Mariupol and around Telmanove in Donetsk region as well as in Staryi Aidar, Toshivka, Zolote, Popasne in the Luhansk region. Most of fighting took place in the nighttime and early mornings.

The SMM did not record any ceasefire violations in the Luhansk region between August 29 and 31.

The shelling continues to result in more casualties and damages to civilian households infrastructure. According to Hug, the pipelines in Hranitne, Kominternove, Lebedynske, Sopine and Berdyanske were damaged leading to electricity outages for more than a day. The SMM facilitated the localized ceasefire to repair the gas-pipeline on the militant-controlled area of the self-declared “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”).

Hug reported that one woman was killed and six people were injured in Horlivka after the militant shelling; schools and a kindergarten were damaged, while the local hospital received a direct hit in Maryinka. A 4-year-old boy was killed and thee more children were injured by an unexploded ordnance detonation in Volodarske, Donetsk region.

Hug noted that most of schools in the region opened yesterday, however, some of them were not fit for the purpose.

The OSCE unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed five self-propelled artillery pieces, two main battle tanks, two howitzers on the militant-controlled areas of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and two tanks in government-controlled areas. The SMM monitors also reported one of their UAVs was over the “DPR”–controlled area where a truck with an anti-aircraft gun has been observed. “DPR” also denied access to the site were the UAV were last seen.  The monitors assumed that the UAV was deliberately destroyed, which constitutes a direct violation of the Mission’s mandate and Minsk agreements. Tomorrow the Chief Monitor will coordinate meeting of experts on Minsk on verification.

The SMM stated the absence of weapons from holding areas. However, both sides continue to hamper the SMM access to these areas.

Hug noted that freedom of movement remains the problem for civilians in the conflict area. The queues at checkpoints are still the regular sighting and some checkpoints are closed following the shelling in the area.

As of today, the SMM is comprised of 856 members, of whom 538 are monitors, 68 are other international staff and 250 are Ukrainian staff.