US State Department accuses Russia of using intimidation tactics against the OSCE mission in the Donbas

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declared that Russian-backed militants must stop shooting in the direction of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) staff of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Eastern Ukraine.

"I’m seeing reports that Russia-subordinated personnel fired a weapon to intimidate unarmed OSCE SMM monitors in eastern Ukraine," Nauert wrote. "OSCE SMM risks their lives to protect civilians. Russia should stop this deplorable behavior and get out of Ukraine before more SMM personnel are killed," she wrote on Twitter.

Nauert’s statement appears to be substantiated by the SMM OSCE report on one of many such cases that occurred on June 14 in Pikuzy on the territory controlled by separatists. OSCE observers reported that at 2:03 PM on June 14, an SMM patrol consisting of six members and two armored vehicles was in Pikuzy (23km north-east of Mariupol), where they examined fresh tracks on the asphalt similar to those of a BMP-type vehicle.

One of the patrol members exited his car, after which the mission personnel heard two short bursts of small-arms fire. The observers saw two men in military-style clothing standing about 50 meters south on the road. One of the men was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and was firing his weapon, pointed in the general direction of the SMM, at an upwards angle. After the last shot, both men left.

The OSCE SMM believes that the shots were fired to warn the patrol and force it to leave the area.

  Donbas, US State Department, OSCE mission, Ukraine, Russia