U.S.: Russia unilaterally blocks extension of OSCE SMM onto its border with Ukraine
Combined Russian-separatist forces in Donbas violate the truce and hinder the work of international observers, that’s according to a statement by the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Voice of America reports.
“Separatists routinely deny the SMM access to the Ukrainian-Russian border, while Russia unilaterally blocks the expansion of the OSCE Border Observation Mission beyond the current two small checkpoints,” the report says.
Concerned with numerous breaches of truce, the mission states: “Over the past weekend, ceasefire violations more than quadrupled from the previous week.”
It also indicates more casualties among both military and civilians: “The presence and use of heavy weapons near the line of contact kills soldiers and civilians and undermines Minsk implementation.”
The OSCE observers say that the separatists are trying to conceal their activity, restricting the movement of the monitors in the area they control, according to the report.
Read alsoThe Daily Beast: The war in Ukraine is back – so why won't anyone say so?“Chief [OSCE] Monitor Apakan reported that the “overwhelming majority” of incidents in which the SMM is denied access occurred in separatist-controlled territory. Separatist forces have repeatedly barred the SMM from inspecting heavy weapons storage sites. On January 30 in Luhansk, for example, they blocked the SMM access to one site five times in a ten day period,” reads the statement.
Read alsoThreat of open war with Russia higher than last year – PoroshenkoAs UNIAN reported earlier, Head of the Task Force for the 2016 German OSCE Chairmanship Antje Leendertse said that the issue of expanding the OSCE's mandate to all border crossing points in Donbas at the Ukrainian-Russian border is discussed at the Vienna meetings of the OSCE Permanent Council, but the position of the Russian Federation remains unchanged.