Always refreshing to report some good news.
The OSCE has published their July to September – Trends and Observations report. This confirms Ukrainian military updates detailing a significant reduction in front line firing – notably from heavy weapons such as mortars. This substantial reduction is due to the start of the July 27th 2020 ceasefire. However, OSCE imagery and stats shows Russia-led forces in eastern Ukraine continue to breach the ceasefire agreement and obstruct the OSCE from monitoring the conflict.
Total of 13,977 violations recorded. This refers to combat firing, but includes any live firing military training close to the front line, of which 400 incidents were reported. The majority of the violations occurred during the month of July (12,755), with the bulk presumably before July 27th. 203 explosions attributable to heavy weapons such as mortars were also observed.
Overall: A 75% reduction in ceasefire violations and a whopping 85% reduction in heavy weapons explosions seen and heard. Total of 13 days saw no ceasefire violations whatsoever.
Regrettably, there maybe less lead whizzing about, but civilians are still dying and getting injured. During this period, 3 were killed & 14 injured, with 6 women, 10 men and 1 boy listed as casualties. Total of 65% of the casualties had triggered mines and handled unexploded ordnance which exploded. Some of those killed and injured may have occurred during July, but before July 27th.
Total of 421 violations. These relate to heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and heavy mortars seen on or near the front line. As usual, 90% of the heavy weapons observed were in Russia-led territory, or as the OSCE states – in non-government controlled areas. A perfect example of Russia-led forces breaching the ceasefire & Minsk agreement banning heavy weapons on the front line, can be seen below. Located in front line trenches, the OSCE filmed two 82mm mortars on Sept 21st.
Freedom of Movement Restrictions.
This is when OSCE patrols are refused entry to an area or ordered to leave one. Predictably Russia-led forces continue to be undisputed leaders in stopping the OSCE from monitoring the conflict. Patrols were stopped 130 times, 94% of them in Russia-led territory.
How the OSCE monitors the conflict.
As you might expect, it’s hard for OSCE monitors to see much of what’s going on from the ground. Patrols are stopped from entering areas, ordered to leave areas, weapons are hidden and due to the obvious dangers, no ground patrols are conducted at night. It’s only down to the use of UAV that the majority of ceasefire violations are recorded. Violations such as the two mortars seen above and as seen below, Russian military vehicles observed crossing into Ukraine. Some 76% of this quarters ceasefire & weapons violations were observed using long-range UAV. Such flights are useful as they’re able to fly long distances at night, including along the Ukrainian/Russian border. Long-range UAV have frequently caught military convoys “entering Ukraine (from Russia) where there are no border crossing facilities.