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11 September 2019, 18:43

MILITARY&DEFENCE

OSCE SMM deputy chief monitor inspects Stanitsa bridge prework

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LUGANSK, September 11 (Lugansk Media Centre) - Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Mark Etherington inspected preliminary works towards restoring the ruined section of the bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya, the Lugansk People’s Republic People’s Militia press service reported.

“Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Mark Etherington arrived via the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point on a working visit,” the report said.

“He visited the repair site and saw simultaneous works running on both sides of the bridge,” the press service added.

The LPR and Ukraine continue the preparations essential for Stanitsa bridge restoration.

“LPR specialists are clearing up the area of metal fragments and vegetation. Also, LPR Emergencies Ministry personnel, with the assistance of the LPR Office at the Centre for Joint Control and Coordination, are restoring the Stanitsa Luganskaya bridge arch which was damaged in shelling,” the LPR militia said.

Currently there is only one official checkpoint on the contact line in the Lugansk People’s Republic area of responsibility in Donbass and it is accessible via the bridge in vicinity of Stanitsa Luganskaya. Only pedestrian traffic here is possible thanks to temporary conduit, as the bridge was blown up by Ukrainian forces in early 2015. LPR has been continuously proposing to rebuild it.

Kiev has disrupted the finalising the ICRC bridge restoration project from the very beginning of the discussion demanding that its width be limited in order to prevent the passage of armoured vehicles. The LPR repeatedly pointed out that the Ukrainian demands were ridiculous as the parameters proposed by the Republic (three metres in width and a load capacity of five tons) made military hardware traffic impossible, yet they met the minimum requirements to the passage of ambulances. Ambulance service is needed to a large incidence of people collapsing in queues and regular fatalities.

At the Contact Group meeting in Minsk on July 17, the LPR and Kiev representatives agreed on the Stanitsa bridge repair procedure which envisioned simultaneous repairs, with Ukraine restoring the stretch blown up by Kiev forces in 2015 and the LPR repairing the rest of the bridge. The parties also pledged to use the bridge for civilian purposes. The LPR repeatedly said that it would view any unilateral actions by Kiev on the Stanitsa Luganskaya bridge as an act of aggression. Kiev agreed that unilateral actions were inadmissible. The Republic and Ukraine had agreed not to stop the operation of the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point for the period of bridge repairs.

The bridge repair accord was reached after the disengagement of forces in Stanitsa Luganskaya in late June, which Kiev had failed more than 80 times. LPR and DPR representatives at a meeting in Minsk in September 2016 initialled a framework agreement on partial pullback of forces in Donbass, that was also signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and OSCE. The document provides for three disengagement areas around Zolotoye, Stanitsa Luganskaya and Petrovskoe (DPR territory). The disengagement has been completed in all three areas by now; however, Kiev forces deploy manpower and hardware in the Zolotoye and Petrovskoye disengagement zones in violation of the agreements.

The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements was adopted by the Contact Group on Ukraine on February 12, 2015 and supported by member states of the Normandy Four (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France). The UN Security Council approved the document by Resolution 2202 and called upon all the sides to ensure full implementation of the Package of Measures.

The document provides for comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the contact line, starting a dialog on reconstruction of social and economic ties between Kiev and Donbass. It also envisages carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine providing for decentralization and adopting permanent legislation on a special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

LuganskMediaCentre — 11 September — Lugansk