12:41 GMT13 August 2020
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    Movement restrictions and attacks against the OSCE SMM to Ukraine must stop to enable the mission to sustain the Eastern Ukranian regions'.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Movement restrictions and attacks against the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine must stop to enable the mission to contribute to sustaining the ceasefire in Ukraine's breakaway eastern regions, Alexander Hug, the mission's principal deputy chief monitor told Sputnik Thursday.

    The OSCE has been tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Minsk deal provisions on settling the conflict between Kiev and the pro-independence militias in the country's east. The Minsk accords include a full ceasefire, a weapons withdrawal from the line of contact, an all-for-all prisoner exchange, constitutional reforms, including a decentralization of power in the country, and granting special status to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

    "This must stop if the SMM is to be able to help the sides achieve a sustainable ceasefire. We cannot do our job if those threatening SMM monitors go unpunished. Impunity invites even more threats and attacks. The sides must fully honor the commitments undertaken in Minsk, especially to cease fire and withdraw weapons," Hug said.

    The SMM head noted that on Wednesday, a mission patrol came under fire, while a monitoring drone operated by the SMM was downed near the militia-controlled city of Horlivka.

    "To conduct meaningful and effective monitoring and reporting, the SMM needs freedom of movement. However, our freedom of movement generally remains problematic, particularly in areas not under government control," Hug said.

    The Ukrainian conflict began when Kiev launched a special military operation in Ukraine’s southeast in April 2014, after local residents refused to recognize the new Ukrainian authorities that came to power as a result of a coup.


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    monitoring mission, ceasefire monitoring, Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMMU), OSCE, Ukraine
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