A total of 540 people dressed in military uniforms crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border through the Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints last week, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Observer Mission in Russia's Rostov region, Paul Picard, told reporters on Friday.
Amid the current cold spell, the number of people crossing the border through the Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints has declined, but people dressed in military uniforms continue to move both in the direction of Russia and of Ukraine, Picard said.
Passenger buses have begun crossing the border after a ceasefire was declared, he said. A large number of such buses were seen by OSCE mission observers in Donetsk, he added.
Meanwhile, the OSCE mission has never seen heavy military hardware crossing the Russian border into Ukraine via the Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints. It has not seen Russian drones or helicopters crossing into the Ukrainian airspace either, Paul Picard told.
In the period of their mandate, the observers have seen planes, drones and helicopters flying along the border and recorded their movement but they have never seen aircraft crossing into Ukraine, Picard said.
He added that the OSCE mission members had seen many ambulance vehicles on the Russian-Ukrainian border and said their traffic was more intensive before the truce.
Since the time the mission was deployed in the Rostov region, it has seen three coffins being moved from the Ukrainian territory, Picard said.
The chief observer thanked Russia, in particular, the authorities of the Rostov region, for their assistance.
The mission is closely working with the local authorities and very grateful for their assistance in logistics and other fields, Picard said. He also thanked Russian border guards and customs officers who were always ready to come to the mission's rescue.
The weather is cold in the Rostov region but the OSCE mission continues to work day and night, he said.
In the words of Picard, the mission was deployed at the Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints in the Rostov region at the request of the Russian Federation. The observers are not prohibited to do the monitoring at other checkpoints but their mandate is valid only for Gukovo and Donetsk, he said.
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