Since the beginning of 2017, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine recorded a total 293,816 ceasefire violations in the conflict zone in the east of Ukraine. During this period, the monitors 2,922 times observed Minsk-prohibited weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines; almost two-thirds of them in areas not controlled by the Government. From January 1, 2017, to August 13, 2017, the OSCE SMM has confirmed 350 civilian casualties: 65 killed, and 285 injured. Of these, 28 were killed and 65 injured in incidents related to mines and unexploded ordnance, reported Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“The sides have agreed to cease fire, withdraw weapons, disengage forces and hardware, and de-mine. And yet in reality they have done little. In reality, the sides have only partially implemented the agreements they signed,” summarized Alexander Hug.
Last week, the SMM observed 7,272 ceasefire violations, a 15 percent decrease compared to the previous week. “Of the ceasefire violations recorded last week, 438 were attributable to weapons proscribed under the Minsk agreements – three instances of fire from multiple launch rocket systems, 56 rounds from other artillery systems, five from tanks and 374 from mortars. Ninety-five percent of these explosions were recorded in the Popasna-Pervomaisk area,” elaborated Mr. Hug. He added that the monitors observed Minsk-proscribed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines 16 times in areas controlled by the Government and 15 times in areas not controlled by the Government.
Principal Deputy Chief Monitor reported that the monitors again faced restrictions of freedom of movement on both sides. On Sunday, August 13, an armed member of the so-called “LPR” intimidated the monitors. “An armed member of the so-called ‘LPR’ – standing just a few meters away – pointed an assault rifle at four unarmed civilian members of an SMM patrol at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. He threatened to shoot them if they didn’t leave the area,” he said.
Alexander Hug said that since tomorrow, August 19, the OSCE SMM will deploy monitors on a permanent 24/7 basis to its Forward Patrol Base in Stanytsia Luhanska. “We already have a camera there, since October 2016 – and plan to install others. They will ensure comprehensive monitoring and reporting, especially during the nighttime, when many of the ceasefire violations occur. The presence of monitors in Stanytsia Luhanska on a 24/7 basis will allow closer contact with the civilian population living near and crossing the contact line,” he explained.