"Get ready": OSCE says armed men near Kreminets threaten monitors

14:20, 06 April 2018
War
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REUTERS

"At 12:14 on April 5, an SMM patrol consisting of six members and two armored vehicles was stationary, preparing for a scheduled flight of its mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) while positioned on road H15, 2km east of a checkpoint of the armed formations east of Kreminets (non-government controlled, 16km south-west of Donetsk)," the OSCE SMM said in a spot report.

Read alsoUkraine reports three attacks on OSCE drones in Russian-occupied Donbas since Easter truce"Just before that, a blue Lada car (with plates AA237 and with 'police' markings in Russian) traveling west to east turned around towards the SMM. Three men (one in camouflage clothing, two in blue police-type attire) then emerged from the car, each carrying an assault rifle (AK-variant, hanging down over their shoulders), and approached the patrol. The man in camouflage clothing introduced himself (in Russian) as a 'commander of a special unit'. He said it was a 'no-fly zone' and that they were not informed of the SMM's activities with the UAV. The SMM explained the mandate of the Mission and its activities, including the operation of UAVs," the monitors said.

"At 12:30, a second vehicle (white car) approached the SMM on the H15 road from the west, with two armed men in camouflage clothing on board. One of them, the driver, was carrying an assault weapon (AK-variant). The two men emerged from their vehicle and spoke to the SMM in an aggressive manner. The SMM heard one of them say 'Get ready' (in Russian) to the other, who then charged his weapon, keeping his finger on the trigger and pointing the barrel of the gun at the ground."

Read also"Easter truce" in Donbas: Ukraine reports 27 violations in last day"The man who introduced himself as 'commander' then made a number of phone calls, as the SMM patrol leader attempted to calm the situation, explaining its duties and mandate. The men from the Lada car were also present (a total of five men), standing around throughout. The SMM collected its equipment and left the area at 13:03. It returned safely to its base in Donetsk city at around 14:50. The SMM informed the armed formations in Donetsk about the incident," the OSCE said.

In 2018, the SMM has experienced approximately 20 restrictions of its freedom of movement in the Kreminets area.

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