Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova published an infographic on her official Facebook page alleging that Ukrainian military violate ceasefires more often than the Russian supported militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Zakharova claims her information is based OSCE Ukraine Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) reports. Ukraine’s Joint Armed Forces told StopFake that Zakharova’s claims have no basis in reality. Our own analysis of OSCE SMM reports mentioned by Zakharova showed that her numbers were simply pulled out of the blue.
Zakharova, who claims that she used OSCE SMM reports from July 31 through August 18 as the basis for her infographic writes “Sergey Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister) often spoke of these percentages. Now it can be seen in this infographic. This is no longer a trend, but a system.”
Ukraine’s Military called Zakharova’s numbers inaccurate while the OSCE SMM mission told StopFake that the mission reports only facts and any and all ceasefire violations that the monitors saw or heard are reflected in the Mission’s daily monitoring reports.
Indeed if one compares the data that Zakharova presents with the real numbers recorded by the OSCE, it is quite obvious that Zakharova’s numbers are simply invented.
A simple way of checking these claims is through the quantity of obstruction directed at SMM drones, which is noted in the SMM report under the heading Restrictions of the SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate, but even this data is not exact as it is not always indicated from which territory the obstruction occurred.
In any case during the period of July 31 through August 18 the Mission recorded approximately 34 cases of obstruction in Ukraine controlled territories and 23 in Russian controlled areas. Zakharova’s accounting is quite different, she claims Ukraine obstructed the monitoring 33 times, but the Russian militants only 16 times. Furthermore, the SMM report clearly states that the majority of cease fire violations were recorded in non-government controlled areas.
Zakharova’s classifications are also unclear. What is the difference between “Ceasefire violations when it is possible to determine the side that is shooting” from cases of “open fire that is possible to determine the shooting side”.
The OSCE SMM report does note an increase in the number of ceasefire violations during this period and compares their number with the previous reporting period. Very often these explosions are described as being of uncertain origin and the type of weapon is not identified.
Another important aspect that is not reflected in Ms. Zakharova’s creative accounting is the fact that in each SMM report OSCE monitors note the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government therefore one cannot argue that these reports show a true and complete picture of what is actually happening at the front.