Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s answer to a media question about an attack on the OSCE SMM in Donbass

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 19:04

Question: The other day, the State Department’s Heather Nauert tweeted that “Russia’s proxies” in Donbass allegedly fired surface to air missiles at OSCE civilian UAVs and harassed unarmed OSCE monitors, who risked their lives defending civilians. She urged Russia to stop its disgusting behaviour and get out of Ukraine before more SMM staff died. Can you comment on this?

Maria Zakharova: These irresponsible statements represent yet another attempt to confuse public opinion, present Russia as a party to the internal Ukrainian conflict, which it is not, and whitewash Kiev that has been sabotaging its commitments under the Minsk Agreements.

One gets the impression that Washington is hardly aware of either the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s mandate in Ukraine or its reports on the situation in the region. Let me remind you that the SMM is supposed to monitor the situation, not defend civilians.

In fact, SMM reports do record attacks on OSCE UAV drones from both sides in the conflict. But for some reason, Washington does not comment on attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces (UAF).

As for civilian casualties, the SMM reports that 48 Donbass civilians have been hit by UAF bullets and artillery shells since the start of this year (nine died and 39 were wounded), while the figures for the UAF-controlled territory are five killed and four wounded. These figures speak for themselves.

Only one SMM employee, US paramedic Joseph Stone, was killed during its four years in Donbass. This happened last April, when his car hit a landmine in LPR-controlled territory. We reiterate our condolences to Mr Stone’s family and to the US side. The international commission that investigated the incident came to the conclusion that the Donbass self-defence forces were not implicated in planting the landmine. Incidentally, a Russian OSCE monitor was in the second SMM car that followed the vehicle carrying Joseph Stone. He could have been in Stone’s place.

We call on our US partners to be more responsible and professional with regard to their public statements, even on Twitter. It is high time they stopped distorting facts and covering up for Kiev. Instead they should encourage Kiev to implement the Minsk Agreements and, more precisely, to stop shelling Donbass, lift the blockade of the region and grant it a special status within the Ukrainian state. We are confident that Washington is capable of influencing Kiev. 

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