Kyiv, June 2, 2016. Violence in Donbas continues. On Monday night, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) recorded 105 undermined explosions west and north-west of their position in Donetsk city centre. In Kuibyshevskyi district, the monitors saw the damage to residential buildings. They were also told by residents that armed men were using the roofs of their buildings to fire weapons. Using densely populated residential areas as firing positions is banned, emphasized Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM in Ukraine at the press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
According to him, on Sunday night an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a revealing exchange of fire in so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Mineralne, 10 kilometres north-east of Donetsk. “First the UAV saw two self-propelled howitzers about 100 metres from a residential area. Then – suddenly – two incoming explosions occurred. Minutes later the crew of these howitzers responded. They fired four rounds in a north-western direction – in the general area of government-controlled Avdiivka”, Mr Hug explained.
He stated that on Tuesday monitors recorded in there 227 explosions from 152mm artillery, 120mm and 82mm mortar, and automatic grenade launcher, mostly at locations two to ten kilometres south-east of their position. On the same day, other SMM monitors in Yasynuvata heard 113 undetermined explosions and 46 single shots of small-arms fire two to ten kilometres west and south-west of their position.
First Deputy Chief Monitor noted that fighting also threatens to further restrict local people’s freedom of movement. Also in Luhansk region there is only one crossing point, at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. “And even there, people can only cross on foot. And they are required to apply for crossing permits in advance. And they are restricted in what they can carry across. The sides have promised to open a new crossing route in the Zolote area of western Luhansk. That has not happened,” Mr Hug said. He added that on Monday night the monitors at the Forward Patrol Base in Stanytsia Luhanska heard 336 explosions from mortar, anti-aircraft gun, automatic grenade launcher, and 73mm calibre gun fire.
“Separating the sides – particularly in key flashpoint areas such as Avdiivka-Yasynuvata – would considerably reduce the risk of violent flare-ups there. There is no freedom worth fighting for that brings only dependency,” argued Alexander Hug.