Thursday 23 January 2020
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Ukraine: Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 14 January 2020

Source: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Country: Ukraine
SUMMARY KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKIY, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall number of border crossings by persons increased at both BCPs compared to the previous week. OPERATIONAL REMARKS The OM is currently operating with 22 permanent international staff members, including the Chief Observer (CO). The Mission is supported administratively by a staff member and the Chief of Fund Administration based in Vienna. OBSERVATIONS AT THE BORDER CROSSING POINTS Persons crossing the border The profile of persons crossing the border can be categorized as follows: Adults travelling on foot or by car with little or no l Persons in military-style o Families (often including elderly persons and/or children) travelling on foot or by car with a significant amount of luggage. The average number of entries/exits increased from 8,776 to 11,093 per day at both BCPs compared to last week[1]. During the reporting period, the majority of border crossings were to Ukraine, with an average net flow of 1,443 per day for both BCPs. The Donetsk BCP continued to experience much more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. Persons in military-style outfits During the reporting period, the number of persons in military-style outfits crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs was 12, compared to 15 last week: five of them crossed into the Russian Federation, and seven into Ukraine (83 per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP). They continued to cross the border individually or in groups. Most individuals crossed on foot, however, some made use of private vehicles, buses or minivans, making it more difficult for the observer teams (OTs) to observe their movement across the border, especially since some of the private vehicles had tinted windows, and buses and minivans had drawn curtains. Families with a significant amount of luggage The OTs continued to report on families, sometimes with elderly persons and/or children, crossing the border at both BCPs with a significant amount of luggage, or travelling in heavily loaded cars. During this reporting week, nine families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation and seven families were observed crossing into Ukraine, compared to the previous reporting period when one family was observed crossing to the Russian Federation and two into Ukraine. Bus connections Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between Ukraine (mostly from/to the Luhansk region) and the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the OTs continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often the buses did not state their instead they had a sign on the windshield stating “irregular”. During the reporting period, the OTs observed an increase in the overall number of buses crossing the border at both BCPs (535 compared to 343 observed during the previous week). There were 273 buses bound for the Russian Federation and 262 bound for Ukraine. On some occasions, the OTs noticed the bus drivers removing the itinerary signs from the windshields of their buses, while some buses did not display their route at all. The majority of long-distance buses commuting between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region and “LPR” plates. Trucks During the reporting period, the OTs observed an increase in overall number of trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (477 compared to 81 during the previous reporting week); 288 at the Gukovo BCP and 189 at the Donetsk BCP, 308 of these trucks crossed into the Russian Federation and 169 crossed into Ukraine. Most of the trucks observed by the OTs had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk however, on a daily basis, the OTs also noted trucks registered in Belarus, the Russian Federation and with “LPR” plates. The OTs also continued to observe tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting week, the number of tanker trucks increased from 20 to 35. These trucks were observed crossing the border at both BCPs. The trucks had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in either Russian or Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks had hazard signs, indicating that they were transporting propane or a mix of propane and butane. All trucks underwent systematic inspection by Russian Federation officials, which could include an X-ray check. Due to the unfavourable observation position at the Gukovo BCP, the OTs continued to be unable to observe any X-ray checks. Compared to the previous week, the total number of X-ray checks at the Donetsk BCP increased from zero to 50. Of the total number of trucks scanned, 37 trucks (74 per cent) were bound for Ukraine: the remaining 13 trucks (26 per cent) crossed into the Russian Federation) Minivans The OM continued to observe passenger and cargo minivans[2] crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The OTs observed minivans predominantly with Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk however, the OTs also frequently saw minivans registered in the Russian Federation. Compared to the previous week, the number of cargo minivans increased from 72 to 120 ve 63 crossed into the Russian Federation and another 57 into Ukraine. Trains The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains on the railway tracks located approximately 150m south-west of the Gukovo BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on eight occ the OTs assessed that five trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and three to Ukraine (more details are provided in the sections “trends and figures at a glance” below). Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees located between the train tracks and the BCP. Other observations The majority of vehicles crossing the border had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region, or Russian Federation licence plates. A significant number of vehicles with “LPR” plates were also observed crossing the border in both directions on a daily basis. The OTs also observed cars with “DPR” plates. On 10 January at 06:10, an ambulance with the inscription “Child Reanimation” (in Russian) entered the Donetsk BCP from Ukraine. The vehicle underwent border control procedures and left to the Russian Federation. On 10 January at 14:03, two ambulances with “LPR” plates arrived at the Donetsk BCP from the Russian Federation. Both vehicles underwent border control procedures for around 15 minutes and left towards Ukraine at 14:20. The first ambulance bore inscription “Child Reanimation” (in Russian). On 12 January at 14:56, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed an ambulance with Russian Federation licence plates. The ambulance arrived from Ukraine, underwent border control procedures and left towards the Russian Federation at 15:01. The flashing lights on the ambulance were turned on. For trends and figures at a glance covering the period from 7 December to 14 January 2020, please see the attachment here [1] Based on data received from the Regional Representation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. [2] Cargo minivans: light commercial vehicles with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3.5 t and not more than 7.5 t; with or without a trailer with a maximum mass of less than 750 kg (small cargo vehicles which correspond to driving licence C1). Contacts
Communication and Media Relations Section
OSCE Secretariat
Phone: + 43 676 71 74 592
press@osce.org


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