OSCE reports brokering ceasefires despite both sides impeding its mandate  


August 13, 2015. Over the last five days, monitors from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) brokered a temporary ceasefire to restore water to residents in Spartak village, Donetsk region. This is despite OSCE monitors’ reports that both sides of the conflict have restricted OSCE movement and access to weapons storage facilities. Additionally, monitors brokered a ceasefire to restore water and power to Luhansk. Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM provided this update at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Hug stated that in addition to monitoring, the SMM’s mandate addresses “reducing tensions and promoting normalization.” He elaborated on the recent ceasefires brokered, saying that thousands of Ukrainians lack access to water, electricity, gas, and other basic necessities. Hug reported that in addition to Spartak, residents in other areas of Donetsk had been without water for seven months before the ceasefire.

Hug reported that monitors are routinely denied access to key geographical areas and weapons storage facilities. In addition to hindering the OSCE’s ability to monitor the drawback of weapons from the frontline, monitors report having no access to the Ukraine-Russia border from the Luhansk side. According to the OSCE, unknown parties have gone as far as destroying OSCE assets, including four vehicles of the mission last Sunday.

In addition to restrictions to monitors’ freedom of movement, Hug reported that another OSCE unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was jammed in areas northeast, north and west of Mariupol yesterday.

The SMM reported heavy weapons use including 122 mm and 152 mm artillery by both sides. According to monitors, fighting continues around the destroyed Donetsk airport and in Horlivka, as well as in Maryinka, Krasnohorivka and Avdiivka. Hug reported rising tensions north of Mariupol, and renewed violence in Shyrokyne. He also said that Starohnativka and “DPR”-controlled Novolaspa have become new focal points of violence, where both sides are accused of using heavy weapons. Additionally, the OSCE reported fighting over the past week in the vicinity of militant-controlled Kalynove, Vesela Hora, and Stanytsia Luhanska.

Hug drew the public’s attention to the humanitarian crisis, where civilians face long lines at checkpoints, exposing them to shelling and explosives. Monitors report that the “DPR”, itself an unrecognized entity, required humanitarian organizations, on which civilians heavily rely to stop operations and register with the self-proclaimed government before continuing operations.

Commenting on the Minsk Agreements, Hug reported that weapons supposedly removed from the frontline were missing. Monitors reported both Ukraine and the “DPR” limiting access to storage facilities, where on Wednesday, monitors reported 11 howitzers, eight Grad multiple rocket launchers were missing from Ukrainian facilities while six self-propelled howitzers were unaccounted for in “DPR” storage facilities.

Concluding with organizational updates, Hug said all new monitors would deploy to eastern Ukraine. The SMM is comprised of 835 total members, of which 525 are monitors, 67 “other international staff,” and 243 are Ukrainian staff.