As a result of car of the OSCE SMM patrol hitting a mine near the Ukrainian village of Prishib (a part of the Luhansk region that is not controlled by Ukraine), a US citizen was killed. Two more members of the patrol - citizens of Germany and the Czech Republic - were injured and taken to a hospital in Luhansk, the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM Alexander Hug said at the briefing in Kyiv.
Alexander Hug confirmed that both cars on which six patrol observers were traveling were armored. Three other members of the patrol who were traveling on the second SMM car did not suffer and returned to the OSCE SMM base.
He noted that the place of the incident is very close to the contact line - in the Slavyanoserbsky district, from the side of the Seversky Donets river, controlled by the militants. According to him, SMM patrols and civil transport were constantly moving along this route, and there were no mines there. The mission claims that they did not notice any warning signs about the mine danger along the road. Hug also recalled that the parties to the conflict, in accordance with the Minsk agreements, must not undermine these territories.
“The tripartite contact group and the Minsk Agreements of September 19, 2014 banned laying minefields and provided for the removal of all those previously laid. The overall work on coordination of mine clearance is carried out by the JCCC. I regret to note that these obligations remain largely on paper. It is extremely important that the parties take their obligations seriously and neutralize all mines in the Donbas.”
Alexander Hug also stressed that the OSCE SMM remains true to its mandate, which was approved by 57 OSCE member countries, and will continue to work in Ukraine, contributing to the establishment of peace. He added that the SMM team was deeply shocked by the tragic incident and expresses condolences to the family of the deceased members.
"We remain faithful to the strict implementation of our mandate and to returning peace to the people of Ukraine.”
As for the strengthening of protective measures in the work of the mission patrols, especially in the uncontrolled territory of Ukraine, a decision will be taken after the investigation of the incident.
“Anyone responsible for injuring and killing the patrolmen with a mine must be held accountable.”
The Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM declined to comment on the information published in the separatist media about alleged involvement of “Information Resistance” in the incident, and promised to provide more detailed information after the investigation.
The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko condemned the armed provocation against the OSCE patrol, noting that "the Ukraine condemns all forms of permanent obstruction of the work of the OSCE SMM by militants. Its security and freedom of action must be guaranteed. "
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also called for a thorough investigation of the attack on the OSCE SMM in Ukraine.
Reference. Since the beginning of the year, in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are not controlled by the Ukrainian government, the militants have increased the number of provocations against the OSCE SMM, starting from simple obstruction to armed attacks, in particular on February 24 near Yasinuvata and on March 10 in Pikuzy (ORDO) shots were heard near the patrol. In addition, near Yasinuvata, the militants seized a drone from the patrol, which was subsequently returned not fully equipped. According to Alexander Hug, the militants did not inform the mission about any investigations into the incidents and, especially, the punishment of those guilty of armed provocations.
In March, in an interview with the Russian news agency, Hug said:
“The aggression that we encounter in the areas beyond the control of the government can not be compared with the reaction of the Ukrainian armed forces. There we also face obstructions, but they are not accompanied by such aggression, interference and intimidation that we see in areas beyond the control of the Ukrainian government.