Kyiv, December 12, 2014. The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has observed a lull in the use of weapons in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine consists of 338 monitors from 41 countries in 10 locations, and this number will increase to 500 monitors in the next four to eight weeks. This was stated at Ukraine Crisis Media Center by Alexander Hug, the Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
“We have indeed observed and reported on a decrease in the use of weapons in eastern Ukraine in the last few days,” stated Hug. While the OSCE mission has recorded instances of the use of small arms in the active combat zone, the organization has not witnessed the use of heavy armaments and artillery that have become commonplace since the signing of the Minsk Protocol in September. “On behalf of the Chief Monitor, I welcome the recent decrease in shelling,” he said. The mission has also received reports of the partial withdrawal of heavy weapons, although this is still unconfirmed.
Despite the seemingly positive developments, Hug stressed that the principles of the Minsk Protocol, signed more than three months ago, have not successfully resulted in an immediate cease fire and de-escalation of violence. OSCE monitors and unmanned aerial vehicles continue to show that the security zone agreed upon in Minsk is not yet safe or secure. “The risk of escalation remains high as long as these provisions are not adhered to,” stated Hug. In addition, OSCE monitors continue to observe unmarked military vehicles in territory under the control of pro-Russian forces. On December 10 alone, the special monitoring mission observed five green trucks without license plates traveling from Lutuhyne to Krasnyi Luch, as well as a convoy of unmarked military vehicles heading toward Donetsk.
The OSCE continues to voice its concern about the fate of civilians in the conflict area. Many individuals, particularly members of vulnerable groups, are struggling because of limited access to healthcare, social assistance programs, and basic amenities. “These groups include men and women alike, the elderly and the very young, those registered as internally displaced and those who are still holding out hope that they will not need to add such registration to the long list of other difficulties they and their families are facing,” said Hug. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine calls for parties to the conflict to respect to principles of the Minsk Protocol and facilitate the dialogue to address these issues.