The Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, discussed the issues facing the staff of the mission in eastern Ukraine.
"The greatest difficulty we face is along the supposedly secure zone along the contact line and mainly at the moment in areas not under the control of the Ukrainian government. This includes the area between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, also not under the control of the Ukrainian government,” Hug said in an interview with UNIAN.
According to him, at the moment, there is a 408-km long border crossing that the government does not control and that the mission has great difficulties accessing. “But it’s not a consistent barrier, some days we have access and the other days we don’t. It’s very unpredictable. If we see anything there, these former official border crossings are not under the government’s control at the moment and are controlled by those who have effective control – the so-called LPR and DPR,” the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine added.
“And because we are not allowed access to open bases, for instance, in Antratsit down south in Luhansk oblast or Amvrosiivka in Donetsk oblast, and the distances the observers have to drive are very long. Also when we drive to these locations, we face multiple checkpoints,” Hug said.
“By the time we arrive there, they know that we are coming. So everything we see there is being highly controlled and we are only there during daylight hours,” he added.
Armed confrontations between Ukrainian security forces and separatists of the self-proclaimed republics of the Donbas region have been ongoing since April, 2014. According to the latest UN data, since the start of the conflict in the Donbas, 9,449 people have died and 21,843 people have been wounded. About 2,000 of these victims were civilians.