Starting today, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be present round-the-clock at the only Ukrainian checkpoint on the de facto border with separatist occupied territory in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region.
“The observers of the Special Monitoring OSCE mission will be constantly present at the patrol base in Stanytsia Luhanska in Luhansk region beginning with the 19th of August,” Alexander Hug, first deputy of the head of the OSCE mission, announced during a briefing.
The deployment represents an improved Special Monitoring Mission presence at one of the key points on the front line. Stanytsia Luhanska is the only place where civilians can cross between the region occupied by the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR) and territory controlled by Kyiv.
The two sides’ checkpoints are located on opposite sides of a bridge, which was severely damaged in the course of the conflict. Despite what Hug termed its “deplorable” condition, hundreds of people cross the bridge every day.
“In October 2016, we placed a video camera there, and now we want to install more, but engineering cannot be compared with observers,” Hug said. “The observers will provide complex monitoring and reporting, especially at night time, because, as you can see, the majority of shelling attacks happen at night.”
The observers’ constant presence will be “the OSCE’s contribution to normalization of the situation in Stanytsia Luhanska,” Hug said.
So far, both sides have not pulled back their forces in the region, he added. If that were to happen, it might be possible to repair the bridge.