SMM reported a 35% decrease in the total number of ceasefire violations, following four consecutive weeks of an increasing number of violations. OSCE unmanned aerial vehicles are constantly being jammed, undermining their mission.
Kyiv, June 24, 2016. Over the past week violence spread to the east and north-east of Mariupol. Approximately 20km east of Mariupol, OSCE cameras captured at least “17 explosions, four outgoing rounds, one illuminated flare, and at least 11 tracer rounds,” reported Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM in Ukraine at the press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The violence around Mariupol accounted for 10% of all violence in Donbas for this week. Hug also mentioned that this is first time in 10 weeks that the SMM had recorded violence on this level for this area.
On Monday night, monitors reported a clash with 65 mortars explosions in government-controlled Shchastia.
However, SMM reported a 35% decrease in the total number of ceasefire violations, following four consecutive weeks of an increasing number of violations. Hug stated, “The decrease was particularly noted in the old hotspots – around Donetsk airport, the Yasynuvata-Avdiivka area and on the Svitlodarsk-Debaltseve road.”
Hug emphasized renewed “Hope that there is a possibility to end this conflict.” But that it would require the help of the OSCE nations in the areas of “facilitation, mediation, and the logistical and operational expertise.”
He also highlighted the interference of OSCE activities by both sides in the conflict – “but in particular in areas not controlled by the Government – still insist on providing less than unfettered access.” Hug mentioned in the past week the self-proclaimed “LPR” had only permitted OSCE monitors to visit the border areas out of government-control only once, despite four attempts, “This indicated to us that they are willing to give us access whenever there is nothing to be seen, but refuse to give it when they have something to hide.”
OSCE unmanned aerial vehicles are constantly being jammed, undermining their mission due to loss of video feed preventing reconnaissance, or loss of control possibly causing a UAV to crash. Displaying photo evidence, Hug said that jamming stations in self-proclaimed “DPR” territory south of Donetsk, are one example. UAVs have also been targeted and shot down in “DPR” controlled Ozerianivka and Korsun. He also presented evidence of Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” troops using small-arms to shoot at UAVs near Stanytsia Lukhanska.
“Since the beginning of the year those in control in areas outside government control have restricted SMM’s freedom of movement six times more than governmental forces.” –OSCE SMM
Hug went onto say that on June 22 monitors in monitors visiting government-controlled Vodiane came under mortar fire. Recognizing the dangers OSCE SMM faces by working in the ATO zone, Hug frustratedly explained, “the visit to Vodiane had been co-ordinated with representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination,” and, “Those firing mortars at the village therefore knew the SMM was present. And they still fired mortars, some of which impacted 100 meters from our people.”
Lastly, Hug appealed to those parties responsible for hindering the OSCE SMM to stop so the mission could carry out their work.