Kyiv, March 25, 2016. “Violence continues in the Yasynuvata-Avdiivka area. On Wednesday, for instance, from a position near Yasynuvata railway station between 9:37 and 15:00 hrs, our monitors recorded 178 explosions, not to mention small arms and heavy machine gun fire,” said Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at Ukraine Crisis Media Center via Skype from Odesa. Alexander Hug said that on March 24 the so-called DPR had actually refused to allow the SMM to patrol in Yasynuvata. The other big hot spot is along the Luhanske-Debaltseve road, reported Mr. Hug. “Based in nearby Svitlodarsk, also on Wednesday, our monitors heard 40 undetermined explosions, ten mortar and 24 automatic-grenade-launcher impacts,” he said.
Patrolling under such circumstances is of course not without risks, says Mr. Hug. “In Yasynuvata on Tuesday an explosion occurred within 150 metres of SMM monitors. In Zaitsev, also on Tuesday, a bullet struck a metal pole 10 metres from other SMM monitors,” said Mr. Hug. And another bullet hit the ground a mere 3 metres in front of them.
According to the First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, the places where the monitors’ lives were endangered this week were places where the sides’ positions had gotten closer. “That is why the re-positioning of hardware and personnel is not good. It invariably leads to escalation, putting the sides in the line of sight and within small-arms fire range of each other. We’ve seen where this leads to already in Debaltseve, Zaitseve, Pavlopil, and Yasynuvata-Avdiivka,” explained Alexander Hug.
In addition, the monitors have noted a similar practice in Luhansk region. “The area separating so-called LPR positions in Pervomaisk and government positions in Popasna has been dangerously reduced. It is significant that generally Luhansk region remains calm except in this general area,” noted Mr. Hug.
Alexander Hug also informed that the SMM organized sustained patrols in Yasynuvata and Avdiivka. The result has led to the resumption of water supplies to over 400,000 people in these towns and in some parts of nearby Donetsk city. He also noted that before the intervention by SMM the water filtration plant had ceased operating as workers could not get to the plant because of the ongoing fighting.