After five consecutive weeks of decrease in levels of violence, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) observed a deterioration of the security situation with a 75 per cent increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded from 8 to 14 May. The SMM monitors noted an increased use of weapons proscribed by the Minsk agreements, in particular multiple launch rocket systems. After intensive shelling on 13 and 14 May the SMM confirmed multiple civilian casualties, with five killed and four injured on both sides of the contact line. A lull in fighting followed on 15 May.
The SMM’s freedom of movement remains restricted. During the period from 1 to 14 May its access was restricted on 31 occasions: 22 in non-government controlled areas and nine in government-controlled areas. In addition, the Mission’s patrolling remains restricted to asphalt and concrete roads, following the death of one OSCE SMM member and the injury of two others when their vehicle hit what was probably a mine near Pryshyb on 23 April. The restrictions on the implementation of the SMM’s mandate are under regular review but are likely to remain in place until the sides take measures to remove mines or mark or fence them off.
The Chief Monitor of the SMM, Ertugrul Apakan, addressed the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 12 May. He emphasized that the safety and security of the SMM’s unarmed civilian monitors – and of the wider civilian population in eastern Ukraine – must be prioritized by the sides to the conflict.
Ambassador Apakan has also condemned the sexual harassment of a female SMM patrol member by an armed man in the non-government controlled area of Donetsk region on 5 May.