OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

06/12/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/12/2020 10:29

OSCE SMM Spot Report 31/2020: Members of the armed formations continued to deny SMM patrols passage at checkpoints in Donetsk and Luhansk regions

From 6 to 12 June, members of the armed formations again denied SMM attempts to cross into non-government-controlled areas along official crossing routes: six times in Donetsk region and three times in Luhansk region, while further attempts to cross into government-controlled areas were also denied, twice in Donetsk region and four times in Luhansk region.

On 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 June, at a checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk), members of the armed formations continued to deny the SMM passage towards non-government-controlled areas on three occasions, and passage towards government-controlled areas on four other occasions, each time referring to the closure of the checkpoint due to COVID-19.

On 6 and 10 June, at a checkpoint near Olenivka (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), members of the armed formations continued to deny the SMM passage towards government-controlled areas on two occasions, once stating that 'the SMM did not have permission to pass' and on the second occasion referring to quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19. On the same days, members of the armed formations denied the Mission passage towards non-government-controlled areas, both times referring to quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19.

On 8 and 12 June, at a checkpoint 600m west of Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, non-government-controlled, 85km south of Donetsk), members of the armed formations continued to deny the SMM passage towards non-government-controlled areas, referring to quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19.

On 9 June, at a checkpoint near Oleksandrivka (non-government-controlled, 20km south-west of Donetsk), members of the armed formations denied the SMM passage towards non-government-controlled areas, referring to quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19. On 10 June, members of the armed formations denied the Mission access to the area of their checkpoint east of Kreminets (located on the same crossing route as the above-mentioned checkpoint near Oleksandrivka) from where the Mission wanted to monitor civilians queuing to travel to government-control areas, referring to the ongoing closure of the checkpoint.

In addition, on 7 June, the Mission was again unable to proceed towards non-government-controlled at a checkpoint near Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) due to the presence of spikes laid across the road and of a mine hazard sign at the same checkpoint.

The Mission began facing repeated denials when attempting to cross into non-government-controlled areas at checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk region on 21 March and Luhansk region on 23 March (see previous SMM Spot Reports). They restrict the SMM's freedom of movement across the contact line, thus impeding the implementation of its mandate throughout the country.

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With regard to COVID-19, the SMM has introduced a number of stringent mitigation measures into its operational procedures. These include strict adherence to social distancing rules both internally and with external interlocutors, daily temperature checks, use of PPE and minimizing the number of personnel in vehicles.