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Russia demands prior warning as OSCE drone spots transporting weapons to Ukraine

Author : Halya Coynash

Observers of the OSCE mission spotted the air defense missile system 9K33 Osa in 70 km from Donetsk, in the militant-held area
20:14, 9 November 2018

gazprom.ru

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has launched an interesting counter-attack to France and Germany’s accusations regarding the downing of an OSCE drone over occupied Donbas.  Spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed that the route of the drone should have been agreed in advance with the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ [DPR, LPR]. That would certainly have saved the drone, or UAV, but only because Russia would have had prior warning to ensure that it did not get caught bringing a military convoy, together with a surface-to-air missile system into Ukraine.  It was immediately after the UAV spotted the Russian military weapon system on 27 October that attempts were first made to jam the UAV, and then it was brought down.  This was not the first occasion that UAVs had been jammed, with an earlier incident on 10 October also following the sighting of a Russian Ural truck mount mounting with an anti-aircraft gun near the border. 

Related: OSCE Deputy Head Hug comments on his resignation

The Joint Statement from France and Germany was undiplomatically blunt in its message.  It not only condemned the downing of the UAV, but stated the following:

'The evidence collected by SMM suggests Russia and the separatists it backs bear responsibility for targeting and downing of the LR UAV, blinding the mission at this particular spot. In recent weeks, on multiple occasions the SMM’s UAVs, while being heavily jammed, observed the convoys entering the Ukrainian territory across a non-official border crossing point from Russia into Ukraine. Before the loss of communication, the SMM UAV spotted a surface-to-air missile system.'
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson called on France and Germany to refrain from what she called 'unsubstantiated allegations in anti-Russian mode' until the end of the investigation, and claimed that the DPR/LPR militants had already expressed willingness to cooperate in this ‘investigation’. 

Related: OSCE records truck convoy in Donbas near border with Russia

Most of Zakharova’s phrases were similar to those made about the Joint Investigation Team's identification of the Russian BUK missile from the 53rd Brigade used to down MH17 and other Russian war crimes.  The goal is always to imply that 'nobody knows', that 'there are multiple possible versions', and that 'it’s all so unfair to Russia'.

Bandying about terms like 'unsubstantiated allegations', she then went on to make some seriously questionable claims to back the astounding assertion that the OSCE SMM should coordinate the drone’s movements with the Kremlin-backed ‘republics’. 

Related: OSCE drone takes fire in occupied Donbas

According to Zakharova, the militants’ demand to specify the route that the UAV would take and for it to be fitted with flashing lights is because the Ukrainians 'use armed drones as military aviation against civilian targets in Donbas more and more often'. 

She did not provide proof of this, instead using another favoured method, namely, the claim that only cases that can result in ‘anti-American’ material get reported, and that there had been many losses of drones in government-controlled areas. The assertion clashes with the response from outgoing Deputy Head of the SMM, Alexander Hug. He said that the drone downed on 27 October had been the first.

Without providing at least one example to back her claim, it is difficult not to conclude that Zakharova was searching for some excuse to justify what is essentially an inexcusable demand. Any prior warning of a UAV’s movements makes them effectively a waste of time. 

Related: Hug's words about Russian military in Donbas are his personal opinion, - OSCE SMM

In the above-mentioned interview, Hug spoke of problems with monitors visiting areas near the Ukraine-Russia border, not under Ukrainian government control.  The number of checkpoints mean that the militants always have plenty of time to conceal what they don’t want seen.  The UAV gives the possibility of carrying out real, close to spot checks, including the ones performed at night.

It is Russia which, by carrying out night-time operations with military trucks, and the vehicles, some of which carried military hardware, is demonstrating that it has something to hide. 

More details about the incriminating evidence for the Courts at the Hague which the OSCE SMM’s drone has uncovered may be found here:  OSCE drone downed after it spotted Russian military movement by night in Ukraine.

Related: Another UAV spotted near Ukrainian army ammo storage

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