Last week, the OSCE SMM recoded 5,892 ceasefire violations in the conflict zone in the east of Ukraine, and in total over 325,000 since the beginning of this year, reported Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Almost 27,000 of those ceasefire violations were caused by proscribed weapons; weapons that should have been withdrawn beyond lines agreed by the sides in Minsk a long time ago. And last week we observed 48 such weapons in violation – 31 in government controlled areas and 17 in areas not controlled by the Government. We have in fact so far this year seen over 3,800 heavy weapons in violation – over two thirds in areas not controlled by the Government,” he elaborated.
According to Alexander Hug, the SMM has faced over 2,000 restrictions of freedom of movement since the start of 2017. This includes direct restrictions through denial of access and intimidation as well as obstacles complicating access. For instance, the monitors have difficulties to cross the contact line in Luhansk region. According to Alexander Hug, the destroyed bridge at the crossing point in Stanytsia Luhanska is in a very poor state and is dangerous to use, while the nearest crossing point is in Zolote, approximately 60 kilometres away. Alexander Hug also noted that representatives of the so-called “DPR” refused to give the necessary security guarantees to the SMM to install an acoustic sensor near Shyrokyne. “This week, another acoustic sensor in Popasna became operational, allowing the OSCE SMM to detect ceasefire violations, identify the direction from where they originate and under certain circumstances, pinpoint the origin of fire,” he added.
700 cases of 2,000 restrictions of freedom of movement were direct restrictions involving soldiers or armed men, denying or delaying access, sometimes with intimidation. One of the recent incidents happened on October 25. “The members of the so-called “DPR” in Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr) pointed a heavy-machine gun at our unarmed civilian monitors,” said Alexander Hug. He emphasized that according the OSCE SMM mandate and the Minsk agreements, the SMM monitors should have had free access to any village or area.
According to the OSCE SMM, already over 400 civilians were killed or wounded as a result of the conflict in 2017.