VIENNA, August 24. /TASS/. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has denounced the recent incidents targeting patrol teams of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) in the east of the country.
"I fully support the SMM’s call on the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination to follow up on the recent incidents and to ensure rapid response to cases of impediments to monitoring and verification by the SMM," Steinmeier said in a statement posted on the OSCE website on Wednesday.
"It is with great concern that I have learned that again shots were fired in the direction of an SMM team near Novooleksandrivka and that another SMM patrol was held at gunpoint and searched near Lukove," he noted.
The German minister emphasized that "such assaults aiming at obstructing the work of the civilian, unarmed OSCE monitoring mission and its observers are completely unacceptable."
He added that "the recent attacks add to a number of impediments to the work of the Mission, including numerous restrictions on their freedom of movement, which are well documented in the Mission’s reports." "All sides must fully guarantee the security and safety of the SMM monitors and equipment and ensure their unfettered access throughout the country, including the conflict area," he pointed out, adding that "the Mission must be able to fulfill its mandate, as well as its role foreseen in the Minsk agreements."
On August 20, observers came under fire in the Lugansk region while controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle by means of which they examined the Ukrainian army positions. According to the mission, the UAV was flying over the units of the Ukrainian armed forces located 900 meters west of the monitors’ position. The fire was opened from a wooded area located 50 meters west of the observers close to Novoalexandrovka village.
On August 23, a OSCE patrol team was detained at a checkpoint close to the Lukovo populated locality where the observers were held at gunpoint, while one of the armed people who was presumably under the influence of alcohol was trying to search the mission’s car.