Ukraine

Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 13 November 2018

Source
Posted
Originally published
Origin
View original

This report is for the media and the general public.

SUMMARY

KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKIY, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall number of border crossings by persons slightly decreased at both BCPs compared to the previous week.

OPERATIONAL REMARKS

The OM is currently operating with 20 permanent international staff members, including the Chief Observer (CO).The Mission is supported administratively by a Vienna-based staff member.

OBSERVATIONS AT THE BORDER CROSSING POINTS

Persons crossing the border

The profile of the people crossing the border can be categorized as follows:

Adults travelling on foot or by car with little or no luggage;
Persons in military-style outfits;
Families (often including elderly people and/or children) travelling on foot or by car with a significant amount of luggage.
The average number of entries/exits decreased from 10,434 to 9,790 per day at both BCPs compared to last week[1].

During the reporting period, the majority of border crossings were to the Russian Federation, with an average net flow of plus 130 for both BCPs.

The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP.

Persons in military-style outfits

During the reporting period, the number of persons in military-style outfits noted crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs was ten this week; seven of them crossed into the Russian Federation, and three into Ukraine (100 per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP). They continued to cross the border individually or in groups. Most individuals crossed on foot, however, some made use of private vehicles, buses or minivans, making it more difficult for the observer teams (OTs) to observe their movement across the border, especially since some of the private vehicles have tinted windows, and buses and minivans have drawn curtains.

Families with a significant amount of luggage

During this reporting week, no family travelling with a significant amount of luggage, or travelling in heavily loaded cars was observed, compared to the previous reporting period when eight families were observed crossing the border into the Russian Federation and five into Ukraine.

Bus connections

Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between Ukraine (mostly from/to the Luhansk region) and the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the OTs continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often the buses do not state their route; instead they have a sign on the windshield stating “irregular”.

During the reporting period, the OTs observed a slight decrease in the overall number of buses crossing the border at both BCPs (389 compared to 393 observed during the previous week). There were 207 buses bound for the Russian Federation and 182 bound for Ukraine.

Among the bus connections observed by the OTs, the following “irregular” routes or destinations were noted: Kyiv; Rovenky-Kyiv; Pervomaisk-Kyiv.

On some occasions, the OTs noticed the bus drivers removing the itinerary signs from the windshields of their buses, while some buses do not display their route at all. The majority of long-distance buses commuting between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation have Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region.

Trucks

During the reporting period, the OM observed an increase in the overall number of trucks crossing the border in both directions and at both BCPs. Compared to the previous week, the total number of trucks went from 684 to 737 (247 at the Gukovo BCP and 490 at the Donetsk BCP); 428 of these trucks crossed into the Russian Federation and 309 crossed into Ukraine. Most of the trucks observed by the OTs had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, on a daily basis, the OTs also noted trucks registered in the Russian Federation and in Belarus.

Among them, the OTs also continued to observe tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting week, the number of tanker trucks increased to 62 (compared to 47 during the previous reporting period). These trucks were observed crossing the border at both BCPs. The trucks had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in either Russian or Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks had hazard signs, indicating that they were transporting propane or a mix of propane and butane.

All trucks undergo systematic inspection by Russian Federation officials, which may include an X-ray check. Due to the unfavourable observation position at the Gukovo BCP, the OTs continued to be unable to observe any X-ray checks.

Compared to the previous week, the total number of X-ray checks at the Donetsk BCP increased from 91 to 114: of the total number of trucks scanned, 74 trucks (65 per cent) were bound for Ukraine; the remaining 40 trucks (35 per cent) crossed into the Russian Federation.

Minivans

The OM continued to observe passenger and cargo minivans[2] crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The OTs observed minivans predominantly with Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, the OTs also frequently saw minivans registered in the Russian Federation. Compared to the previous week, the number of cargo minivans slightly decreased from 169 to 167 vehicles; 87 crossed into the Russian Federation and another 80 into Ukraine.

Trains

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains running on the railway tracks located approximately 150 metres south-west of the Gukovo BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on 21 occasions, compared to 23 last week; the OTs assessed that ten trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and 11 to Ukraine. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine was regularly informed about the trains bound for Ukraine.

Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees located between the train tracks and the BCP.

Other observations

The majority of vehicles crossing the border had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region, or Russian Federation licence plates. A significant number of vehicles with “LPR” plates were also observed crossing the border in both directions on a daily basis, as were vehicles with Georgian licence plates.

On 6 November at 19:00, an ambulance entered the Donetsk BCP. The vehicle arrived from the Russian Federation and stopped outside the main building. At 19:54 on the same day, the ambulance left the BCP and returned to the Russian Federation.

On 7 November at 14:47, a Russian police vehicle entered the Donetsk BCP from the direction of the Russian Federation. The vehicle stopped outside the main building and at 14:57 the police vehicle left the BCP in the direction of the Russian Federation.

On 8 November at 08:37, the OM observed a vehicle (Mercedes Vito van) with “LPR” plates passing through the Gukovo BCP. The vehicle bore the sign “GRUZ 200” and crossed the border from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

On 9 November at 08:37, the OM at the Donetsk BCP noticed an ambulance with “LPR” plates. The vehicle crossed the border from Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The car bore inscriptions “Ambulance” (in English) and “Urgent medical help” (in Russian).

At 16:20 on the same day at the Donetsk BCP, an ambulance with “DPR” plates and a crew consisting of two people entered the BCP. They travelled from the Russian Federation to Ukraine.

Later on the same day, the OM observed a Russian police vehicle entering the area of the BCP at 10:21. The vehicle returned to the Russian Federation at 10:24.

For trends and figures at a glance covering the period from 17 October to 13 November 2018, please see the attachment here.

[1] Based on data received from the Regional Representation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

[2] Cargo minivans: light commercial vehicles with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3.5 t and not more than 7.5 t; with or without a trailer with a maximum mass of less than 750 kg (small cargo vehicles which correspond to driving licence C1).

Contacts
Communication and Media Relations Section
OSCE Secretariat
Phone: + 43 676 71 74 592
press@osce.org