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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Ukraine. The OSCE suspends the mission in Donbas

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OSCE activities in Donbas have been suspended. The reason is the ongoing protests in front of the hotel in Donetsk, where members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe are staying, the head of the mission, Halit Chevik, told Reuters.

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“Due to concerns for our safety and because of our safety rules, we have suspended our operations,” said Chevik. He added that the members of the mission had not yet felt the threat from the protesters.

It has not been specified in what area or for how long the activities of the observers will be suspended.

Protests in front of the hotel

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The mission’s report from October 16 stated that “from the morning of October 15, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) recorded a mass gathering in front of the hotel where its members live in Donetsk, which is not under the control of the government, which hindered any movement of patrols to and from the hotel 15 and 16 October”. It was written that about 50-100 people – mostly young men – gathered in front of the building. Some of them had banners with them and criticized the activities of the mission. There were also 22 tents.

Reuters stresses that the mission has faced similar protests from Russia-backed separatists before, but this time demonstrators blocked the entrance to the hotel. The agency writes that about 200 pro-Russian protesters on Saturday demanded the release of a separatist arrested by the Ukrainian military last week.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said the detainee, who according to the ministry is a Russian citizen, belonged to a group of Russian military personnel who carried out an undercover reconnaissance mission.

The OSCE special mission monitors the situation in Donbas. Archival photo OSCE / Evgeniy Maloletka

The situation in Donbas

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is monitoring the situation in Donbas, where a conflict between government forces and the separatists supported by Russia has continued since 2014. The mission operates throughout the territory of Ukraine, also in areas not under the control of the authorities in Kiev. Its task is to supervise the ceasefire process between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists, as well as to prepare reports on the situation in the conflict zone.

In Saturday’s report, the mission said that separatists had deployed 58 units of military equipment in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts not controlled by the Ukrainian military, breaching the demarcation line.

The fights between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which have been going on since 2014, have claimed over 13,000 deaths.

Conflict in UkrainePAP

Main photo source: OSCE / Evgeniy Maloletka



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