Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 05.02.2019
On February 4, the Russian army invading Ukraine shelled a checkpoint near Zolote in Luhansk region. Five members of an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) team were in the fire upon area, and saw flames, smoke, soot and snow kicked up by the impacts. By this attack, the Russian Federation not only violated the Minsk Agreement ceasefire but also the terms of its membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The OSCE SMM gave a spot report: “On 4 February, an SMM patrol consisting of five members and two armoured vehicles was positioned near a checkpoint of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, approximately 300m north of the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk), to monitor the security situation.”
The report continued: “Between 10:25 and 10:30, two patrol members, who were standing next to the vehicles, heard five undetermined explosions at an assessed range of 2-3km east and south-south-east. At 10:30, having just entered the vehicles, the SMM patrol members heard three explosions assessed as impacts, and saw flames, smoke, soot and snow 70-100m east-south-east.”
The OSCE SMM patrol then moved farther into free Ukraine territory and safety. Shelling and gunfire continued to be noted even five kilometres distant from the battlefront.
The Joint Forces Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (JFO) noted the incident in its daily battle report. In the area of the Vil’nyi farmstead in Zolote-4, the JFO recorded two outbursts of shooting and shelling by the Russian occupation forces. “The enemy fired on our positions twice with 82 millimetre calibre mortars, grenade launchers of various systems, and large calibre machine guns.”
This was only in Zolote. On February 4, Russian occupation forces also shelled Opytne, Nevelske, Novoluhanske, and Krymske. One Ukrainian soldier serving with the JFO was killed in action. Another Ukrainian service member was wounded. Ukrainian military intelligence assessed Russian casualties to be six killed in action and another four seriously injured.
The Russian Federation should not be shelling the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine because it agreed to the Helsinki Final Act and is a member of the OSCE. The Russian Federation should not be waging war at all in Donbas because it agreed to the Minsk Agreement and its ceasefire. The Russian Federation should not be invading Ukraine because it agreed to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is soon to enter its sixth year. The OSCE fails its mission for security and cooperation in Europe when it fails to declare the war taking place in Donbas to be an international conflict and the Russian Federation to be the aggressor in that conflict. It is utterly beyond reason why the OSCE lets Russian Federation citizens serve on the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to monitor their own invasion.
The Russian army shelled the OSCE on February 4. The Russian Federation should be kicked out of the OSCE.