Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 11 September 2015

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The SMM recorded 44 explosions in Donetsk region and over 38 explosions in Luhansk region. The SMM revised heavy weapons holding areas of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, “DPR”, and “LPR”.

The overall situation observed by the SMM in the Donetsk region remained calm. From its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM recorded 44 explosions[1]. The SMM assessed 33 explosions and five airbursts accompanied by bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire as an exchange between “DPR”-controlled Spartak (9km north of Donetsk) and government-controlled Ventsvol (11km north-west of Donetsk).

At the Ahat Jami Mosque in “DPR”-controlled Kuibyshivskyi district (8km north-west of Donetsk) the SMM met the head of the Muslim community in Donetsk, the Imam of the mosque and six worshippers (male aged 40- 70) who said they do not have any problems with other communities in the neighbourhood. They said the main dome of the mosque was damaged by shelling on 26 June and the fence and women’s section of the mosque were damaged by shelling on 5 and 6 August. The SMM observed a direct hit to the dome, many damaged and missing windows, and impacts of shrapnel on the interior and exterior walls of the mosque. The interlocutors said they had received construction materials to repair the mosque from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, but had postponed repair works until the end of the conflict as the mosque had been shelled five times between May 2014 and 6 August 2015.

In the Luhansk region, the overall situation observed by the SMM remained calm, with explosions recorded in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) and Novotoshkivka (53km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM assessed the explosions as on-going Ukrainian Armed Forces troop rotation training.

In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Illiriia (30km south-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Mala Martynivka (32km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard live-fire, ostensibly at an infantry shooting range in the area.

Residents in “LPR”-controlled Sofiivskyi (52km south-east of Luhansk), Krasnyi Kut (55km south-west of Luhansk) and Hrushove (52km south-west of Luhansk), separately told the SMM that they were concerned about heating their homes over the upcoming winter as coal costs 1000 Ukrainian Hryvnia per ton and their pension was 1000 Ukrainian Hryvnia per month. The interlocutors estimated that a household needs between three and nine tonnes of coal over the winter.

The SMM revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At one area, all four previously recorded anti-tank guns (2A29 MT-12, Rapira) were missing. At the second area, all previously-recorded weapons were present.

The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At both areas, all previously recorded weapons were present.

The SMM revisited two “LPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines and found no changes since the last visit on 4 September, with the weapons absent (see daily report 4 September 2015).

The SMM observed the following movement of weapons in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In the area of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (38km north-west of Donetsk) the SMM observed five main battle tanks (T-72). In the area of “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Luch (55km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two short-range air defence systems (Strela-10, 9k35).

In Odessa, the SMM monitored a protest at Primorskyi district court by up to 230 Automaidan and self-defence activists (80% male, aged 18-50) against the detention of the head of Odessa Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) and the head of Odessa Automaidan. The SMM observed at least 150 activists arrived in 20 cars with number plates from other areas of Ukraine. The courthouse was guarded by 25 police officers and 25 anti-riot police. The president of the court closed the court for security reasons and the protestors moved to the International Humanities University of Serhii Kivalov (Member of Parliament) whom the activists consider a corrupt oligarch.  There, the SMM observed two buses carrying riot police and 27 private security guards and up to 110 protestors (80% male, aged 16-55, 20 wore camouflage uniforms), 60 of whom entered the university compound. There was no confrontation between the police and the activists, who left the location after 30 minutes.

Also in Odessa, on 10 September, media reported that two explosive devices were found at the duty office of a National Guard base. Police confirmed to the SMM that an explosive device was found in a plastic bag containing two pieces of TNT (200g each), tied together with isolating tape. Attached to device was a remote control mechanism. The detonation mechanism was activated but the bombs failed to explode.

In Lviv, the SMM monitored a protest by 30 males (age 20-40) and 12 teenagers (mainly males, age 15-18) against the Russian-affiliated VS Bank. Ten protesters attempted to enter the building, but the bank’s security stopped them. The protesters partially blocked the entrance to the building and asked everybody who entered the building if they worked for the bank. The protestors left after one hour. The SMM observed eight police officers (one female). This was one of a series of similar protests (see daily report 7 September 2015) by young people against the bank that the SMM monitored.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.

Denied access:

  • Between “DPR”-controlled Byriuky (26km south-east of Donetsk) and Novodvirske (31km south-east of Donetsk), a “DPR” armed member stopped the SMM and told the SMM not to proceed due to security reasons.

Delayed Access:

  • At a “DPR” checkpoint on the outskirts of Donetsk city, an armed “DPR” member delayed the SMM for ten minutes. He asked for the final destination and names of patrol members. After he received a phone call, he let the SMM pass. 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.