The United States is deeply concerned about an alarming pattern of violence and harassment by Russian-led so-called separatists in eastern Ukraine, directed at unarmed civilian members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission.
The latest in a series of threatening and intimidating incidents involved a gunman on June 20, who attempted to break the windows and enter an OSCE vehicle monitoring ceasefire violations in Ukraine. The gunman eventually fired shots at the retreating monitors, according to their report.
The attack occurred in the city of Yasynuvata, which is controlled by Russian-led so-called separatists. The area has been held by them since 2014, when they seized several cities in eastern Ukraine, including Yasynuvata.
This latest attack follows the tragic death in April of a U.S. citizen who was serving as a paramedic with the monitors when his vehicle struck an explosive in so-called separatist-controlled territory. The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives, including over 2,800 civilians, according to the United Nations, since it began in early 2014, shortly after Russia occupied and attempted to illegally annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
"The incidents are part of a broader effort to keep the international community from seeing what is happening in eastern Ukraine," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
The U.S. "call[s] on Russia to use its influence to end this campaign of intimidation and honor its commitment to allow free, full, and safe access to the OSCE monitors," said Ms. Nauert. "More broadly, a lasting and durable ceasefire is urgently needed to relieve human suffering and" to allow for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.