This report is for media and the general public.
Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both BCPs. The overall cross-border traffic slightly decreased at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The number of persons in military-style clothing crossing the border in both directions has decreased over the past four reporting weeks.
OM’s staff composition
The OM is currently operating with 21 staff members, consisting of 19 permanent international observers (incl. the Chief Observer) and two first-responders (one of which is an administrative assistant). Six staff members are currently on leave.
Cross-border movements common to both BCPs
The profile of the people crossing the border remains unchanged and can be categorised as follows:
- Families on foot or travelling by car, with a lot of luggage, often accompanied by elderly people;
- Adults (usually of younger age) with no luggage or empty cars;
- People wearing military-style clothes with or without backpacks, crossing on foot or in vehicles.
As compared to last week, the average number of entries/exits slightly decreased overall from 7,345 to 7,279 per day for both BCPs. The average net flow went from minus 251 to minus 75. This continues to exhibit the trend observed by the OM for the past six weeks of more people returning to Ukraine through the two BCPs. The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. The cross-border movements registered at both BCPs accounted for just over 34 percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The majority of the vehicles crossing the border have number plates issued in the Luhansk region, including an increasing number of articulated trucks and the long-distance coaches commuting between Luhansk and cities in the Russian Federation, predominantly in the Rostov region.
Common observations at the BCPs
The situation at both BCPs remained calm. The OM continued to observe that the Russian Federation border guard and customs service conducted checks and controls.
Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the Observer Teams (OTs) also continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often the buses do not state their direct route; instead they just have a sign in the window saying “Irregular”.
During the reporting period, the number of men and women in military-style dress crossing the border in both directions decreased from 519 to 448 at both BCPs. These people have been crossing individually or in groups and on foot or in vehicles. Approximately eighty eight percent of border crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP. The OTs continued to observe a number of Cossacks, who were identified by their traditional hats, as well as by Cossack insignias.
Furthermore, the OTs continued to observe Ukrainian cars with “DPR/LPR” stickers on their license plates replacing the Ukrainian flag.
During the reporting week the OM continued to observe an increased number of trucks crossing the border in both directions. The OTs continued to observe dumper trucks transporting coal from the Luhansk region to the Russian Federation through the BCP Gukovo. The OTs observed intense trailer truck traffic at BCP Donetsk crossing the border in both directions. The OTs also observed tanker trucks crossing the border both ways. These crossings occurred at both BCPs. These trucks for the most part had the word “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in Russian.
At the two BCPs the OM did not observe military movement, apart from the usual vehicles of the Russian Federation Border Guard Service.
Observation at the Gukovo BCP
The traffic flow at the Gukovo BCP slightly increased compared to last week. A daily average of 2,208 entries and exits was recorded, which accounted for just over ten percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow went from plus 15 (i.e. more entries to the Russian Federation) to plus 87 on average per day.
During the week, the OM observed a total of 55 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Gukovo BCP, 25 of whom left for Ukraine while 30 entered the Russian Federation.
As in previous weeks, the OM observed dumper trucks transporting coal from the Luhansk region to the Russian Federation. As reported previously, the observers saw Russian Federation customs officers verifying that the trucks were empty while leaving the Russian Federation.
The OTs picked up on the sound of trains running down the train tracks located approximately 150 meters south west of the BCP on ten occasions during the reporting week; the OTs estimated that four trains were going to Ukraine; five were bound for the Russian Federation. Due to very strong wind, it was not possible to estimate direction of one train. One of the trains bound for the Russian Federation and two trains bound for Ukraine sounded long. Partial visual observation of one of the trains bound for Ukraine was possible: it was a locomotive.
Observation at the Donetsk BCP
During the reporting period the activity at the Donetsk BCP decreased compared to last week. The daily average of 5,071 entries and exits accounted for almost twenty four percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The OM observed that the number of daily average entries and exits has been slowly decreasing over the past three weeks. The net flow changed from minus 266 (i.e. more exiting from Russian Federation) to minus 162 on average per day. Although the net flow numbers fluctuate from week to week, observations at the BCP Donetsk show that still more people exit the Russian Federation for Ukraine. The OT observed 393 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP individually and in groups; 219 persons entered the Russian Federation while 174 left for Ukraine.
During the reporting week the OTs observed six ambulances at the Donetsk BCP. On one occasion an ambulance arrived from the Russian Federation side to pick up a very old lady who felt weak at the BCP. On March 29 an ambulance arrived to the BCP from the Russian Federation side. About an hour later an ambulance arrived from the Ukrainian side. A person with a head injury and clad in Gorka Hill trousers was transferred from the Ukrainian ambulance into the Russian ambulance. Shortly after the transfer both ambulances left to where they came from.
On March 26 at 03:19hrs, the OT heard a short burst, approximately 2 seconds, of shots coming from the south west of the BCP.
On 26 March 2015 at 07:20hrs (Moscow time), a Russian convoy arrived at the Donetsk Border Crossing Point (BCP). A total of 82 vehicles- 71 cargo trucks, 4 fuel trucks and 7 support vehicles- were checked by the Russian border guard and customs services. Russian service dogs were used to check both outgoing and incoming cargo trucks from outside. Ukrainian officers were present on site both when the convoy was leaving the Russian Federation and when it returned. All the vehicles had crossed back into the Russian Federation by 17:20hrs on 26 March.
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/om/149091
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