Ukraine Live Day 698: Russian-Backed Snipers Shoot at OSCE Observers Car

January 17, 2016
A sniper fired on an OSCE SMM patrol, damaging the window, on January 16, 2016. Photo by ATO

Russian-backed snipers shot at the car of a OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) patrol today near the line of contact at Marinka, the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] reported on their Facebook page.

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Russian-Backed Snipers Shoot at OSCE Observers Car

Russian-backed snipers shot at the car of a OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) patrol today near the line of contact at Marinka, the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] reported on their Facebook page.

There were no injuries and a window was damaged. 

The OSCE SMM confirmed the attack on their Facebook page, Ukrainska Pravda reported, but did not indicate which side the sniper was on. The OSCE SMM stated “The SMM condemns this brutal attack on unarmed civilian monitors. The incident has been reported to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC). An operations report will be published later.

Marinka is on the line of contact and is controlled by Ukrainian forces, but is constantly under fire by Russian-supported militants.

2016-01-17 04:41:03

Detail of map of battles January 16, 2016 in the Donbass showing Marinka to the west of Donetsk. Map by ATO

According to the JCCC, there has been no gas supply in Marinka, and the OSCE SMM patrol had gone to inspect how repairs were going. There were Ukrainian officers from the JCCC accompanying the SMM patrol, said the ATO, along with sappers from the Ukrainian State Emergencies Service military personnel involved in civilian liaison.

“The main purpose of the joint patrol was to guarantee the safety of the civilian personnel doing the repair work.” Ukrainska Pravda reported the JCCC as saying.


The OSCE SMM issued a spot report tonight confirming the sniper shooting of their car.

On 16 January at 10:44hrs [1], an SMM patrol comprised of three monitors, one paramedic and one language assistant in two armoured vehicles arrived at a field in the vicinity of government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) – some 1.5km from the contact line – to conduct a general assessment of the damages to a gas pipeline. Six Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), one Ukrainian Armed Forces civil-military administration member, five members of a demining team and five workers of a gas pipeline company were present. 

At 11:40hrs, while monitoring at the site, the SMM heard the sound of one or two shots. In the same moment, the SMM saw a hole in the trunk window of one of the vehicles, which was parked, facing a west-south-westerly direction (the rear facing an east-north-easterly direction). At the moment the shots were heard, one monitor and one language assistant were inside the damaged vehicle and one monitor was outside the vehicle in a distance of about 1-2m. One monitor and one paramedic were inside the other vehicle parked 10m from the damaged vehicle. Another SMM patrol, positioned in the “DPR”-controlled outskirts of Donetsk city about 20km south-west of the Donetsk city centre on the other side of the contact line, did not hear any firing at the time of the incident.

The SMM left the area immediately. Subsequently, the SMM noted that the damaged trunk window was totally shattered. This window was not bullet-proof, whereas a bullet-proof pane divides the trunk and the passenger cabin of the car. No bullet or projectile was recovered from inside the vehicle. Beside the trunk window no other damage was observed inside or outside of the vehicle.

There were no injuries to SMM members. The SMM returned safely to its base in Donetsk city at 13:28hrs.

The SMM informed both Ukrainian and Russian representatives at the JCCC about the incident asking them to take follow-up actions. The Mission will report about JCCC follow-up actions in its regular public reporting.

[1] All times referred to in this report are in Eastern European Time.

The ATO also said that today militants attacked Ukrainian positions 28 times with grenade-launchers and heavy machine guns near Opytnoye, Zaytsev, Avdeyevka, Peski and Krasnogorovka. A BMP and heavy artillery also fired on Luganskoye.

White House spokesman John Kirby confirmed that Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov for six hours at a Russian government resident in Pionersk near Kaliningrad regarding the Minsk talks, and briefed the Ukrainian government on the talks, Interfax Ukraine reported. 

But little was said about the talks other than that the US stressed the need for full implementation of the Minsk agreements and the willingness of Russia to meet again if need be in the “Normandy format” which includes the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France. 
Interfax Russia reported Surkov’s statement as follows (translation by The Interpreter):

Rather substantive, constructive and useful consultations took place. This was a kind of brainstorm in search of compromises to implement the Minsk agreements.

..On some sensitive issues, for example, Constitutional reform (in Ukraine), security and elections, ideas were put forth which may be discussed in the Contact Group in the “Normandy format”.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick