Situation in militant-controlled areas gets tense in the light of approaching May 9 Victory Day celebrations.
Kyiv, May 5, 2016. OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) states a considerable decrease in the level of violence in Donbas over the past week. However, the risk factors remain too high, especially in places where the sides are close to each other. For example, four people were killed in Olenivka on 27 April where shelling incident took place. That was stated by Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine at the press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Mr Hug urged the sides to withdraw the heavy weapons from the security zone, as the risk of attack from the other side is clearly less now. “When I see the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) bringing in heavy weapons into Luhansk city, I am, however, not entirely convinced that everyone understands the urgency involved. Everyone has a right to express their cultural and historical heritage, particularly when it comes to marking the 9 May Victory Day. Heavy weapons in the middle of a major city are not an honour; they are simply a violation of the Minsk accords and a threat to the people living in that area,” stated First Deputy Chief Monitor. He added that in south-east of government-controlled Svitlodarsk, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been recording a large concentration of weaponry in violation of the Minsk agreements.
Alexander Hug noted that in Marinka, only 300 metres of gas pipeline remains to be completed. In the meantime, tens of thousands of civilians and much industry on both sides of the contact line in that area remain cut off.
According to Mr Hug, freedom of movement is still an issue, especially in areas not under government control. “This week, for instance, following up on reports that weapons were arriving in Izvaryne in south-east Luhansk region, we sent a patrol to monitor. An armed so-called “LPR” member ordered us out – and actually escorted us out – of the town,” explained Alexander Hug. He also added that armed so-called “Donetsk Peoples Republic (“DPR”) members demanded to see passports of SMM monitors at checkpoints.