Skip to main content

OSCE mission gets access to Debaltsevo in E. Ukraine, Kiev and militia swap prisoners

Vehicles of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) to Ukraine near Debaltsevo, eastern Ukraine, February 20, 2015. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
Vehicles of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) to Ukraine near Debaltsevo, eastern Ukraine, February 20, 2015. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

The OSCE monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine has finally arrived in the town of Debaltsevo, after a local militia provided guarantees of security. At the same time Kiev and rebels in Lugansk gave independent reports of prisoner swaps.

Representatives of the OSCE special monitoring mission (SMM) in eastern Ukraine arrived at the town of Debaltsevo in the Donetsk region, the mission's spokesperson Michael Bociurkiw announced on Saturday.

Access to the area, which had reportedly been a sticking point at the Minsk peace talks, and which continued to be a scene of fighting between the anti-government forces and Kiev troops, was possible with the militia's guarantees of security, Bociurkiw told Ukraine's 112 tv channel.

The observers arrived at Debaltsevo along with the International Committee of the Red Cross and several trucks, bringing food and medical supplies to the region, the OSCE spokesperson said, adding that its observers are working on a full report on the situation in the region. He also called for all sides to observe the cease fire agreement in all territories in eastern Ukraine and provide access for the mission to all its regions.

Kiev forces allegedly obstructed the OSCE mission's freedom of movement, after keeping the observers at one of the check points some 80 kilometers from Donetsk, RIA Novosti reported. Citing the mission's representatives, it was said that while at one of the check points the observers had to wait for a while to be let through, at the other security point they were denied entry by Ukrainian servicemen, due to lack of travel documents.

On Saturday, the OSCE SMM in Ukraine also asked both sides of the conflict to provide details of their heavy weapons in order to verify their withdrawal from the area. In its statement, the SMM asked for details of "inventories of their heavy weapons; the routes along which they intend to withdraw them; or where they will be concentrated."

In line with the truce, which was agreed by several world leaders in Minsk last week, the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine and military officials from Kiev conducted a prisoner of war exchange on Saturday. At least 35 prisoners from each side of the conflict were freed on neutral territory near Lugansk, the self-proclaimed Donetsk people's republic spokesperson told Ria Novosti. The Lugansk militia also reportedly planned to conduct an exchange with the government. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko announced the release of over a hundred of Ukrainian soldiers on his Twitter.Humanitarian aid from Russia was also delivered to the town of Debaltsevo on Saturday, Interfax reported, citing Russia's Foreign Ministry official. Supplies of food, medicine and everyday necessities were delivered to the region with the help of Russia's emergency services.


Popular posts from this blog

Why States Still Use Barrel Bombs

Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb over the city of Daraya on Jan. 31.(FADI DIRANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Barrel bombs are not especially effective weapons. They are often poorly constructed; they fail to detonate more often than other devices constructed for a similar purpose; and their lack of precision means they can have a disproportionate effect on civilian populations.

However, combatants continue to use barrel bombs in conflicts, including in recent and ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and they are ideally suited to the requirements of resource-poor states.


Barrel bombs are improvised devices that contain explosive filling and shrapnel packed into a container, often in a cylindrical shape such as a barrel. The devices continue to be dropped on towns all over Syria. Indeed, there have been several documented cases of their use in Iraq over the past months, and residents of the city of Mosul, which was recently …

Russia Looks East for New Oil Markets

Click to Enlarge

In the final years of the Soviet Union, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began orienting his foreign policy toward Asia in response to a rising Japan. Putin has also piloted a much-touted pivot to Asia, coinciding with renewed U.S. interest in the area. A good expression of intent was Russia's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012 in Vladivostok, near Russia's borders with China and North Korea. Although its efforts in Asia have been limited by more direct interests in Russia's periphery and in Europe, Moscow recently has been able to look more to the east.

Part of this renewed interest involves finding new export markets for Russian hydrocarbons. Russia's economy relies on energy exports, particularly crude oil and natural gas exported via pipeline to the West. However, Western Europe is diversifying its energy sources as new supplies come online out of a desire to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

This has forced…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…