OSCE SMM Spot Report 21/2021: Members of the armed formations denied the SMM passage at the checkpoint near Kreminets, Donetsk region

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On 17 October, an SMM patrol consisting of three vehicles and nine people arrived at a checkpoint of the armed formations on road H-15 near the Kargil plant in Kreminets (non-government-controlled, 16km south-west of Donetsk) at 12:01, intending to travel to non-government-controlled areas. Another SMM patrol, consisting of two vehicles and six people, intending to cross to government-controlled areas, arrived at the same checkpoint ten minutes later. At the checkpoint, two members of the armed formations denied both patrols passage, referring to instructions of their superiors “not to let the SMM pass through the checkpoint in either direction”.

At 12:30, a man (in his thirties) in military-style clothing arrived at the checkpoint from non-government-controlled areas. He allowed the patrol travelling to government-controlled areas to pass. However, he denied the patrol travelling to non-government-controlled areas passage, stating that “SMM patrols will not be allowed to travel to non-government-controlled areas until they bring with them the captured member of the armed formations.”

At 12:33, the patrol travelling towards government-controlled areas continued on its journey with a 43-minute delay. At 13.08, the other patrol returned towards government-controlled areas after having been refused passage.

The Mission notes that such denials at checkpoints of the armed formations not only restrict the SMM’s freedom of movement across the contact line, but also prevent the SMM’s logistical operations, which are essential for the effective functioning of the Mission.

The OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 1117 specifies that the SMM shall have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. Unrestricted and unconditional access to all areas is essential to ensure effective monitoring and reporting of the security situation, as well as other mandated tasks. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.