The OSCE SMM in Ukraine recorded the expansion of the military range, which is located in the occupied part of the Donetsk region in the Novoazovsk region near the border with the Russian Federation. According to the SMM report, the information was obtained on the basis of satellite observation data from June 19.
“Satellite imagery available to the SMM as of 19 June showed that a training area near “DPR”-controlled Markyne (94km south of Donetsk), approximately 4km from the border with the Russian Federation, had been expanded with new trenches and new prepared equipment positions. Imagery revealed also the presence of six military-type trucks, vehicles and 28 unidentified pieces of equipment, as well as new craters”.
In addition, the report indicates that in the south of the Donetsk region, SMM unmanned aerial vehicle spotted, for the first time, the presence of 13 anti-tank mines near Pikuzy, occupied by militants (on photo).
“An SMM mini-UAV spotted, for the first time, the presence of 13 anti-tank mines on T-0519 road between Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” checkpoints near “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol) in two rows spaced approximately 50m apart on 20 June”.
The SMM indicates that the SMM patrol could not cross the T0519 road between the checkpoints of the AFU and the DPR near Pikuzy, precisely because of the presence of these mines, although the Joint Center for Monitoring and Coordination warned observers in advance that the mines had been recovered.
Earlier, after the car bombing and the death of the OSCE SMM observer in the occupied Luhansk region near the village of Prishib in late April, the mission was stepped up with a reminder to the sides to comply with the requirements of paragraph 6 of the Minsk agreements of September 2014 on the need for mine clearance and non-mine laying in the security zone. At the same time, the SMM states that the sides continue to ignore this obligation mainly for fear to become vulnerable to the enemy after clearance. According to the Ukrainian estimates, more than 700 thousand hectares have been mined in the zone of the conflict in Donbas, and just over 3 thousand hectares have been cleared to date.
Priazov direction, the section between Mariupol and the Ukrainian-Russian border, which is not controlled by the Ukrainian government, remains a zone of increased tension. In particular, military experts assumed that in the event of conflict escalation Russia can make the land corridor to the Crimea through this territory.
According to Ukrainian intelligence and experts, mainly Russian regular troops are located in Novoazovsk region since September 2014, and therefore the separatists make constantly attempts to restrict the movement of SMM observers ground patrols, including the reference to real or fake mine danger. Restrictions are set to civilians as well.
Recently separatists strengthened checkpoints in the same area at the entrance to the seaside resort Sedovo village and restricted the admission of civilians there, allowing only local residents to pass. People resented in social networks, that one of the available resorts was closed for ORDO in summer. By the way, at the end of last week separatists did not allow the OSCE SMM patrol to come in Sedovo referring to the fact that they had received instructions not to let observers through the checkpoint, and that this area is closed to foreigners.
According to the media, the fleet of the “DPR” group is based in Sedovo and naval exercises are conducted.
In addition, the military expert and people's deputy Dmitry Tymchuk said that pro-Russian militants in the ORDO occupied apartments in Novoazovsk and Sedovo, which previously had been abandoned by local residents.