Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall cross-border traffic increased at both BCPs.
OM’s staff composition
The OM is currently operating with 20 permanent international staff members (incl. the Chief Observer). Seven staff members are currently on leave and one on duty travel.
Cross-border movements common to both BCPs
The profile of the people crossing the border remains unchanged and can be categorized as follows:
- Families on foot or travelling by car and busses, with a lot of luggage, often accompanied by elderly people;
- Adults (usually of younger age) with no luggage or empty cars;
- People wearing military-style clothes with or without backpacks, crossing on foot or in vehicles.
Compared to last week, the average number of entries/exits increased overall from 11,038 to 11,367 per day for both BCPs; the average net flow went from plus 90 to plus 373 (i.e. more entries into the Russian Federation). The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. The cross-border movements registered at both BCPs accounted for over 38% of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The majority of the vehicles crossing the border have number plates issued in Ukraine (Luhansk region), including a number of articulated trucks and long-distance coaches commuting between Ukraine (Luhansk region) and cities in the Russian Federation.
Common observations at the BCPs
The situation at both BCPs remained calm. The OM continued to observe that the Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Services conducted checks and controls.
Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between Ukraine (Luhansk region) and cities in the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the Observer Teams (OTs) continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often the busses do not state their route; instead they just have a sign on the windshield saying “Irregular”. During the reporting period the OTs counted three busses bound for Kharkiv, one bus on the route Alchevsk-Kharkiv-Kyiv, and two busses bound for Kyiv.
During the reporting period, the number of men and women in military-style clothes, crossing the border in both directions, increased from 145 to 159 at both BCPs. These people continued crossing the border individually or in groups and on foot or using different types of transport (in addition to private cars, some used busses and also motorbikes). Approximately 87% of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP. The OTs continued to observe that, from time to time, persons in military-style clothes have travelled across the border by bus, making it more difficult for the OTs to observe their movement across the border. Furthermore, the OTs continued to observe physically fit young and middle-aged men in civilian clothing, with short haircuts, many of whom carried camouflage-coloured backpacks.
The OTs continued to observe vehicles with Ukrainian license plates, including articulated trucks, with “Donetsk People’s Republic/Lugansk People’s Republic” (“DPR/LPR”) and “Novorossiya” stickers on their license plates replacing the Ukrainian flag.
During the reporting week, the OM continued to observe a high number of trucks, crossing the border in both directions, including intense cargo truck traffic at both BCPs and dumper trucks transporting coal from Ukraine (Luhansk region) to the Russian Federation through the Gukovo BCP. While the majority of the trucks are registered in the Luhansk region, the OTs frequently observed trucks registered in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions and occasionally in Zaporizhzhia region. The OTs also observed trucks registered in the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus that crossed the border. During the reporting week the number of trucks registered in the Republic of Belarus decreased from 39 to 31; these trucks were observed crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP only. Separately, the OTs also observed tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The number of tanker trucks increased from 30 last week to 60 this week. Fifty-eight of these trucks crossed at the Donetsk BCP and two trucks crossed at the Gukovo BCP. These trucks, for the most part, had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in Russian and Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks have hazard signs, indicating that they are transporting propane or a mix of propane with butane.
At the two BCPs the OM did not observe military movement, apart from the movement of Russian Federation Border Guard Service vehicles transporting BCP personnel and supplies.
Observation at the Gukovo BCP
The traffic flow at the Gukovo BCP has increased compared to last week. A daily average of 3,944 entries and exits was recorded, which accounted for over thirteen per cent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow went from plus 220 to plus 176 (i.e. more entries to the Russian Federation) on average per day.
During the reporting period, the OM observed a total of 21 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Gukovo BCP, 10 of whom left for Ukraine while 11 entered the Russian Federation.
As in previous weeks, the OM observed dumper trucks transporting coal from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
The OTs continued to pick up on the sound of trains running on the train tracks located approximately 150 meters south-west of the BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on 12 occasions; the OTs estimated that 7 trains were going to the Russian Federation and 5 trains were bound for Ukraine. Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees in between the train tracks and the BCP.
Observation at the Donetsk BCP
During the reporting period the activity at the Donetsk BCP increased compared to last week. A daily average of 7,353 entries and exits was recorded. This accounted for twenty-five percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow changed from minus 130 to minus 149 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation) on average per day.
During the reporting week, the OTs observed 138 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP, 77 persons entered the Russian Federation while 61 left for Ukraine.
On 12 November 2015 at 06:44hrs (Moscow time), a Russian convoy arrived at the Donetsk BCP (see the OM Spot Report of 12 November). A total of 46 vehicles – 38 cargo trucks and 8 support vehicles – were visually checked by the Russian border guard and customs services; two service dogs were present on the site during the convoy crossing. Ukrainian representatives were present on site and performed visual check of the trucks as the convoy crossed into Ukraine and when it returned to the Russian Federation. All the vehicles had crossed back into the Russian Federation by 14:13hrs.