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 third parties and security considerations*. Ceasefire violations in and around Donetsk city and at the Donetsk airport decreased on 26 July compared to 25 July. The security situation in Mariupol remained calm. Ceasefire violations increased in Luhansk region compared to previous days. An SMM patrol was caught in fire in Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) but came out unharmed.
Ceasefire violations in and around Donetsk city and Donetsk airport decreased on 26 July compared to 25 July. Positioned at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk), on 25 July, between 08:10 and 13:45hrs, the SMM observed 67 explosions, as well as an exchange of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire north, south, south-west and north-west, and at a distance ranging from 3 to 7km from its position. On July 26, between 08:15 and 14:15hrs, the SMM observed nine explosions mainly north, south and south-southwest at a distance of 3 to 7 km. Sporadic exchanges of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire were also heard.
On 25 July in Avdiivka (government-controlled, 14km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM was told by a check point officer of the Ukrainian Armed Forces that the old part of the city had been shelled the previous day. The SMM saw that a street at the location indicated by the officer had been heavily shelled, with six houses partially destroyed by the shelling (roofs collapsed, windows broken, holes in the walls). No craters were visible on the streets. In the middle of the same street, the SMM also saw a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint with trenches and an armoured personnel carrier (BTR-60).
On 26 July in Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 21km west of Donetsk), the SMM was told by the head of the military-civilian administration that shelling had occurred during the night between 25 and 26 July. The SMMU observed that a nine-story apartment building had been damaged (balconies collapsed, one apartment destroyed, windows broken, holes in the roofs and in the walls). The SMM observed one apartment still burning at the fifth floor, with residents extinguishing the fire to prevent it from affecting the other apartments. At the location, the SMM also saw civilians clearing the remnants of the debris of the apartments. The SMM observed visible evidence of artillery/tank impacts (ranging in size from 30 to 50cm) to the east-facing side of the building, with impacts clearly visible from what appeared to the SMM to be an easterly, north-easterly direction (from an undetermined distance). After having left the scene, while in Marinka (government-controlled, 23km west of Donetsk), the SMM heard from the same direction two outgoing tank rounds.
The security situation in Mariupol (113km south-south-west of Donetsk) remained calm both on 25 and 26 July. However, on 25 July, in Shyrokyne (23km north-east of Mariupol), between 14:50 and 14:55, the SMM heard twice rifle and automatic fire and one shot identified as originating from an AK-47 fired 200-300m east of the SMM’s position. East of Novolaspa (“DPR”-controlled, 53km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM was told by civilians and “DPR” members that shelling had occurred during the night between 24 and 25 July. The SMM analysed seven fresh craters east of Novolaspa. The SMM estimated that one impact had been caused by a 120 mortar shell and six impacts had been caused by 125mm tank shells, fired from the west.
The security situation in the Luhansk region was noticeably tenser than in previous days, with six instances of ceasefire violations observed, two on July 25 and four on July 26. On 25 July, from 10:25 to 11:12hrs, in government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard three explosions of undetermined origin 10km south-east of its position.
On 25 July, in order to verify a ceasefire violation reported by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) on 24 July, the SMM visited government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk). The SMM observed that one house and the shed of another house were burned completely and the roof of a third house was damaged. The SMM estimated that the houses had been shelled by an anti-tank recoilless gun (SPG-9) from a 1.5km distance from a southerly direction.
On 26 July, at 08:40hrs, while stationary in the government-controlled side of Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard outgoing heavy-machine-gun burst and small-arms fire, 200m south-east of its position. At 10:50hrs, while at the same place, the SMM heard 12 outgoing shots, which it assessed as having been fired from heavy machine-guns, coming from a north-easterly direction. After five minutes, also from a north-easterly direction, the SMM heard a single incoming shot assessed as having been fired from heavy artillery (152mm calibre). At 11:45hrs, still in Shchastia, the SMM heard an incoming shot from a small arm and the bullet impacted 10m from the SMM’s position. A fire exchange ensued with the use of mortars (120mm) and heavy machine-guns (12.7 and 23mm). The SMM left after a few minutes.
At 12:40hrs on 26 July (see SMM Spot Report 26 July 2015), an SMM patrol comprised of two vehicles was caught in mortar and automatic grenade launcher fire incoming from the north while trying to cross the contact line from the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled side of Shchastia to the government-controlled side. This crossing had been agreed and co-ordinated beforehand with both the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the “LPR”. At 14:20 the shelling ceased and the SMM considered it was safe to leave the place. There were no injuries to SMM members or damages to SMM vehicles.
On 25 July, the SMM revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapon holding area and visited another one for the first time. The locations of these areas comply with the weapons’ respective withdrawal lines. At the first site, the SMM noticed that two weapons were missing. At the second one, the SMM counted six weapons. On July 26, the SMM revisited three “DPR”-controlled heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the weapons’ respective withdrawal lines. In two of the sites, the SMM observed that all previous recorded weapons were in situ. At the third one, only two SMM members were allowed to enter and they were allowed only to check from a distance*.
The SMM continued to observe heavy weapons in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements. In government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed both on 25 and 26 July an anti-tank missile system (9K111 Fagot). Between the “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31 south-west of Luhansk) and Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM continued to observe the presence of ten T-64 tanks (see SMM Daily Report 23 July 2015).
On 24 July, the SMM visited the crossing point of Kalanchak (91km south-east of Kherson) at the administrative boundary line (ABL) between Ukraine’s mainland and the Crimean peninsula. The SMM observed a 1km-long queue of around 80 cargo trucks waiting to cross into the Crimean peninsula.
On 24 July in Lviv, the SMM monitored 250 miners (majority men, aged between 30 and 50) protesting in the front of the regional police building. Protesters, who claimed that their mine had been occupied on 23 July by the police, demanded that police leave their working place. Fifteen police officers were present. Some miners were invited to talk to the head of the police. On July 26, the head of the region police told the SMM that they would clarify the issue. The rally ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Chernitvsi and Ivano-Frankivsk.
* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third 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. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border, particularly those controlled by the “LPR”, have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM. The SMM UAVs cannot operate in Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.
- On 25 July, the SMM was stopped and asked to submit their identification to Ukrainian Armed Forces at a checkpoint located in government-controlled Horodyshche (59km north-east of Luhansk) for “copying purposes”. Photos of the vehicles were also taken. The SMM was allowed to pass after four minutes.
- On 25 July, the SMM was delayed for 17 minutes at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the entrance of Hranitne (government-controlled, 25km north of Mariupol).
- On 26 July, at a checkpoint located near government-controlled Makarove (19km north-east of Luhansk), members of a border guard unit wrote down the nationalities of the SMM members. The SMM was allowed to pass after five minutes.
- On 25 July, the SMM was stopped by “DPR” members at a checkpoint on the eastern entrance of Novolaspa (“DPR”-controlled, 53 km north, north-east of Mariupol). The SMM was denied access to Bila Kamianka (“DPR”-controlled, 71km north-east of Mariupol)
- On 26 July, the SMM was stopped by “DPR” members at a checkpoint near Sontseve (“DPR”-controlled, 62km north-east of Mariupol) and was not allowed through.
- On 26 July, the SMM was stopped by “DPR” members at a checkpoint near Tavrycheske (“DPR”-controlled, 35 km north east of Mariupol) when attempting to assess reports of shelling and was not allowed through.
- On 26 July, while visiting a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, only two SMM members were allowed to enter and check only from a distance.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.