OSCE SMM was actively restricted at least 23 times last week. All these incidents took place in the areas controlled by the so-called “LPR” and “DPR”. “Many of those restrictions occurred in areas along the unsecured section of the international border in Luhansk region. It was the third consecutive week in which our patrols were ordered to leave by armed men,” reported Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Alexander Hug noted that on March 10, OSCE’s UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operating in the vicinity of Ternove, in the area not controlled by the government, was attacked with small arms. On March 5, another group of SMM monitors faced intimidation. “An armed man in non-government-controlled Kozatske – also in a firing position – pointed his assault rifle at unarmed civilian monitors and ordered them to leave the area,” said Alexander Hug.
Last week, the OSCE SMM observed an 82 percent reduction in the level of violence all along the contact line compared with the previous week. The recorded use of weapons that should have been withdrawn in accordance with the Minsk agreements also reduced. “Such weapons were in fact used on 13 occasions, compared to over 300 times the week before,” noted Alexander Hug. The OSCE also observed 30 heavy weapons in violation of withdrawal lines: ten in areas not controlled by the government and 20 in government-controlled areas.
Alexander Hug stressed that since March 5, there have been already four incidents when vehicles carrying civilians-employees of the Donetsk Filtration Station have come under small-arms fire.
Despite the overall reduction in the number of ceasefire violations, there were local increases in hostilities in the areas to the east and north-east from Mariupol. “For instance, we recorded almost 200 ceasefire violations on 10 March. Such bursts remind us that the potential for violence remains,” noted Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM.