OSCE SMM Spot Report 23/2021: At Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, members of the armed formations delay by 98 minutes SMM exit out of non-government controlled areas

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On the morning of 27 October at 10:41, an SMM patrol with Deputy Chief Monitor (DCM) Mark Etherington on board arrived at the armed formations crossing point near the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. The DCM and two other mission members dismounted and started walking towards the government-controlled side of the crossing point.

They were initially stopped by representatives of the armed formations and asked to provide their names, positions and nationalities. The SMM presented their OSCE cards, but refused to disclose other details. The DCM and the two mission members were allowed to proceed further, only to be stopped again by other representatives of the armed formations who asked to inspect SMM’s luggage. They informed the SMM that they had received no information of the SMM’s intention to cross from their superiors, and could thus only let the SMM pass upon luggage inspection; or as diplomats upon review of diplomatic passports. The SMM refused both. The SMM was allowed to proceed without submitting to these demands only after 98 minutes of waiting.

The SMM notes that 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, the ceasefire, the withdrawal of weapons, demining, as well as disengagement. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments in the fulfilment of its mandate.