Militants sabotage OSCE mission to conceal combined Russian-separatist forces buildup in Donbas - Baer
Separatists' deliberate effort to blind the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Donbas is intended to conceal from the international community the buildup of combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer has said.
"Within a single week, combined Russian-separatist forces shot down the SMM's two long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) near Horlivka... Combined Russian-separatist forces also sabotaged OSCE cameras outside of Donetsk, which are critical to monitoring volatile hot spots like the area between Avdiyivka and Yasynuvata, and they have refused to allow the SMM access to fix them. OSCE reporting confirms that combined Russian-separatist forces are responsible for over 80% of the SMM access restrictions, especially in hotspots like Avdiyivka and along Ukraine's border with Russia. This deliberate effort to blind the SMM is intended to conceal from the international community the buildup of combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, the advanced Russian weaponry these forces have in their arsenal, and the military personnel and materiel that regularly cross the border from Russia into Ukraine," Baer said at the OSCE Permanent Council on June 9, according to the press service of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
He added that such "calculated effort is part of a strategy of deception undertaken by the Russian Federation to cover up its ongoing aggression against Ukraine."
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"We witness this strategy of deception during each Permanent Council [of the OSCE], when Russia denies it is involved in the conflict despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and seeks to distract us by blaming Ukraine for the failure to implement the Minsk agreements," the U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE said.
He also stressed that "even the combined Russian-separatist forces' calculated efforts to blind the SMM cannot conceal the scale and sophistication of weapons and equipment flowing into Ukraine from Russia."