CBRNE & EOD Defence

OSCE details extent of its observers being intimidated by Ukrainian rebels

07 March 2017

Following on from the US Department of State's 27 February condemnation of an attack on the Special Monitoring Missions (SMMs) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in eastern Ukraine, along with the seizure of an SMM-operated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Jane's has now learned further details about this and other incidents in Ukraine from OSCE sources.

An SMM observer team from the OSCE in eastern Ukraine, where their task has been obstructed by intimidation from separatists. (OSCE)An SMM observer team from the OSCE in eastern Ukraine, where their task has been obstructed by intimidation from separatists. (OSCE)

According to the sources, the particular incident happened on 24 February when in Yasynuvata (in an area 16 km northeast of Donetsk controlled by the rebel People's Donetsk Republic [DPR]) an SMM team was preparing to launch one of its quadcopter mini-UAVs from the northwestern edge of the town to inspect shell damage to the Donetsk water filtration station. At 13:27 h local time four men in military camouflage armed with AK-type assault rifles appeared from the south and approached the SMM team, shouting "stand still!" in Russian. Two of the men were kneeling and aiming their weapons at the SMM team, while the two others advanced in short tactical movements, one of whom seized the mini-UAV from the ground. Despite the SMM members loudly identifying themselves in Russian and English, the four men then withdrew with the mini-UAV without communicating. When 15-20 m away, one of them then turned around and fired a three- to five-round burst from his weapon that struck the ground about 5 m from an SMM vehicle, behind which the monitors were taking cover. The monitors then got into their vehicles, left the scene, and informed the OSCE's Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) about the incident, asking it to assist in the recovery of the UAV.

This was far from being a singular incident, according to the OSCE. On the same day in DPR-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23 km northeast of Mariupol), while an SMM team was having a conversation with two armed men, one of them pointed an AK-47 into the air and fired a number of rounds.

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