No ammunition moved through Russia-Ukraine border - OSCE monitors
Published time: August 19, 2014 08:35
OSCE observers stationed at two Russian border checkpoints, the Ukrainian counterparts of which are controlled by the Ukrainian military, have not witnessed any movements of weapons across the border.
The monitors did witness young people “dressed in military style” moving across the border into Ukraine, Paul Picard, acting chief observer of the OSCE Mission, told journalists. However, all of them were unarmed.
There were also no instances of military vehicles crossing the border in some two weeks which the observers spent at Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints, he added.
He added that the OSCE did its part in assisting the international effort to check a Russian humanitarian aid convoy before it would be allowed into Ukraine, but said the organization has little impact here, because the progress with the convoy depends on Russian and Ukrainian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The presence of the observers on the Russian side of the border was part of an agreement aimed at deescalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine. They were invited amid Kiev’s claims that Russia supplies arms and military vehicles to the armed militia fighting against the Ukrainian troops in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.
The monitors were supposed to be deployed after a ceasefire by Kiev, but Moscow agreed to host them unconditionally as a gesture of goodwill.
Tuesday, August 19
The bodies of 15 refugees killed in the shelling of a convoy to the southeast of Lugansk on Monday morning have been identified, Ukraine’s Security Council said Tuesday, blaming militiamen for their deaths. The self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine denied the accusations, saying that they have neither force nor the means to conduct such an attack. The prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexandr Zakharchenko, called the Kiev’s statement “a pure and simple fake”.
Civilians were killed and injured as a result of shelling which nearly destroyed the central part of Lugansk on Tuesday night. No numbers are given in a message on the city council’s website, which cites reports of the city’s residents. It calls the situation in the town critical, as only the most essential products are on sale, and people face waiting in long lines to get bread. There has been no water or electricity, and mobile and landline phone lines have been down for 17 days. High temperatures may trigger infections in the city, due to a lack of fresh water and piles of garbage.
Ukrainian troops have shelled the center of Lugansk, apparently aiming for the city council building, rebels reported. They also denied a report of gunfights in the city center which was voiced on Tuesday morning by a Ukrainian police official.
Washington has recognized the need for Russian humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine, according to comments by the US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.
“We agree that the people of that region are in need of aid,” Harf said during a briefing on Monday, adding that US wants the contents of the aid convoys checked.
“We want to make sure this is actually aid, though. We understand there is an agreement that the aid will be inspected by Ukrainian border guards and customs officials before being transferred in batches to representatives of the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross].”