On Saturday, March 08 the international observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent to Ukraine do not make another attempt to enter the Crimean Peninsula at any checkpoint, Lt.-Col. Gábor Ács, the leader of the team informed Hungarian News Agency MTI.

Speaking to the MTI, the lieutenant-colonel confirmed that they had been stopped with warning shots at a checkpoint where they attempted to enter on Saturday. At the same time, he pointed out that the armed men had aimed the shots at motor vehicles, not at the observers.

He also told MTI that there had been more armed men at this checkpoint, and they had been more aggressive, especially towards their Ukrainian companions.

Earlier Gábor Ács said that the unacknowledged Crimean government had set up checkpoints along the border of the autonomous republic, which are manned by uniformed armed men belonging to an unknown organization. They stop every vehicle and screen most of them, he added.

The lieutenant-colonel told MTI that to the best of his knowledge, there are altogether five land-based road entry points to the peninsula. Their delegation was turned away at two of these on Thursday and then at one on Friday and on Saturday respectively.

After their repeated failed attempt to enter the peninsula on Saturday, the observers return to Kherson where they will discuss how to proceed.

Gábor Ács added that it was suggested that they should attempt to enter the Crimean Peninsula not on a main road but rather with Ukrainian assistance by sea, rail or air. On Saturday afternoon he was not in a position to say when a decision would be made about this matter.

Chapter III of the Vienna Document (the 2011 OSCE agreement on Confidence and Security Building (CSBM) measures) provides that the experts of the organization are allowed to visit any member country to “dispel concerns about unusual military activities”. The present visit has been requested by Ukraine. This is the first time that OSCE has been conducting such a mission under the terms of the agreement quoted above.

The members of the observer team – which is formed by representatives of 22 countries and that of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre – have chosen Lt.-Col. Gábor Ács the leader of the team. Under the terms of the OSCE Vienna Document, the 42-member contingent – including two Hungarian senior officers – has the mission of verifying compliance with the agreement at Ukrainian military facilities.