Kyiv. January 14, 2016. On 22 December, there has been a significant decrease in the level of violence in particular at and around the remains of the Donetsk airport. Low numbers of ceasefire violations were recorded. Yesterday, however, a number of explosions and some bursts of small-arms fire were registered. This was announced by Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine at the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center via Skype from Soledar, where he met with representatives of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination.
According to him, in Horlivka, the SMM saw a marked increase of violence and regular exchanges of small-arms fire and mortars. “Before Christmas in the small settlement of Zaitseve a woman was killed. Another woman was injured last Friday. A Ukrainian police officer was also killed during the woman’s evacuation from the scene”, Mr Hug elaborated. Last Thursday and Friday the Missions’ monitors positioning in Horlivka observed intense exchanges involving salvos of multiple launch rocket systems, artillery and mortars. The team of monitors were forced out of their vehicles and to the ground by armed so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) members at gunpoint. “Their hands were aggressively placed behind their backs and their legs kicked apart as they lay face down in the snow. Afterwards, they were marched at gunpoint into a nearby building,” Alexander Hug stated, arguing that “it was a targeted and well-coordinated violent assault on monitors and indeed on the entire SMM mission”.
Mr Hug announced that today the SMM opened a new Forward Patrol Base in Krasnoarmiisk, and later today will open another in Svitlodarsk. “We are also making more and more use of technology to improve our monitoring capabilities. Just yesterday, for instance, a camera went into operation in Shyrokyne, allowing us a 24/7, 360 degree view,” he explained.
According to the Deputy Chief Monitor, the SMM also witnessed the large number of tanks in areas south-west of Luhansk.