Kyiv, December 2015. The security situation in Donbas – as in previous weeks – has remained tense and unpredictable. The OSCE SMM noted indications that the violence was spreading. “On Saturday, for instance, in the space of 90 minutes we recorded 99 explosions in Novotroitske, and 32 explosions in Starohnativka. The day before in Pervomaisk in Luhansk region, we heard eight explosions”, stated Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. He also added that during his visit to the region last week, he observed a school in Zaitseve turned into a fortified position by the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”).
According to Mr Hug, the TCG working group on security issues met recently in Minsk, where 12 priority areas for mine clearance were identified. There was some tentative progress made, with the sides agreeing to provide security and ensure there is no firing in these areas. “Among these areas are: Vuhlehirsk Power Station; Karbonit Water supply project; Maiorsk-Horlivka (pressure pipeline) and others”, noted Alexander Hug.
Charitable organizations continue to face difficulties operating in areas not controlled by the government. “Given the restrictions placed on people trying to deliver humanitarian assistance, it is with some irony – and sadness – that the SMM continues to observe increasingly large amounts of coal leaving areas not controlled by the government”, Mr Hug explained, adding that on 12 and 13 December, for instance, the SMM observed a total of 230 trucks, most loaded with coal, at the Marynivka crossing point, waiting to leave Ukraine.
The SMM itself is also experiencing difficulties. “Many interlocutors in public institutions controlled by the so-called “DPR” have been insisting that we receive permission from the so-called DPR prior to allowing us visit or even speak to them”, he explained. The SMM meets an even more serious challenge to the freedom of movement at checkpoints controlled by the so-called “DPR”. “When people ask us why we have been unable to verify explosions – and resulting damage and casualties; when they ask where was the SMM when facilitation and oversight of de-mining was required; when they wonder why no one was there to record the unfolding humanitarian crisis – I will have a very simple answer: ask the people in control in Donetsk city”, Mr Hug argued.