Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 10 February 2016

This report is for media and the general public

The SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. It followed-up on reports of civilian casualties near government-controlled Marinka, and shelling of residential areas in Donetsk city. The Mission encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority in areas not controlled by the Government.* The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repair work to critical infrastructure.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.[1] Positioned in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 7-10km to the west during the night of 9-10 February. In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), in the late hours of 9 February, the SMM registered 18 explosions, half of which it assessed as caused by mortar and 100 rounds of small-arms fire, all 10 to 12km west of its position. Positioned 6km north-west of Donetsk city centre, between 8:00 and 13:00hrs[2], the SMM heard six loud undetermined explosions and an additional ten incoming 82mm mortar explosions, all accompanied by bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire at locations ranging from 3-7km to the south and west of its position. In the evening of 10 February, whilst in Horlivka, the SMM recorded seven 82mm mortar explosions.

Whilst in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard four undetermined explosions, one burst of heavy-machine-gun fire and 18 outgoing explosions assessed to have been caused by an 82mm mortar. Whilst in Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard five bursts of small-arms fire. Later, while in nearby Pavlopil (government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol), it heard ten small arms shots and three undetermined explosions to the south-east of both locations. In Starohnativka (government-controlled, 53km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard a multiple-launch rocket system salvo of five rockets (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) 3-5km west of its position.

The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region, mostly assessed as training related. Positioned near “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard nine artillery and mortar explosions, approximately 5km to the south-west. At the same location, from 10:32 to 10:50hrs, the SMM heard four artillery or mortar explosions 4-6km to the north and six artillery or mortar explosions 4-5km to the west. From 11:47 to 11:52hrs, the SMM heard another three artillery explosions 3km to the west of  the same position, in the same direction as the previous ones. From 12:01 to 13:01hrs, the SMM heard  continuous bursts and explosions assessed as caused by artillery, mortars and machine-guns. The explosions originated 3-5km to the north of its position. The SMM flew an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from government-controlled areas in the vicinity of Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), across the contact line, towards the area of “LPR”-controlled Stepanivka (70km west of Luhansk). From 12:05-12:07hrs, while the UAV was over “LPR”-controlled areas, the SMM heard approximately 100 shots of small-arms fire. The SMM assessed that the shots were directed towards the UAV and were coming from “LPR”-controlled areas*. The SMM UAV was not damaged.

During the night of 9 February, positioned in Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM registered, within a span of 30 minutes, five outgoing mortar explosions while seeing and hearing five mortar impacts, 1-2km east and 4km south of its position, respectively.

The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures. The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites and noted that eight tanks (one T-64 and seven T-72) and three mortars (2B9, 82mm) were missing.

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, aerial surveillance imagery revealed the presence of two tanks in the area of Debaltseve on 8 February. On 10 February it revealed one camouflaged mortar position, as well as crates of ammunition and a cargo truck parked in a defensive position near the mortar, all located some 1.3km from the contact line in an area north of “LRP”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk)*.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification. The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.

In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such a location and saw 12 previously observed MLRS (9K51/BM-21 Grad, 122mm).

In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM revisited such a location and saw five towed howitzers (18 2A65 MstaB, 152mm) and five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), all previously observed.

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, on 9 February, aerial surveillance imagery revealed the presence of two concealed vehicles in a wooded area in north of Veselohorivka (“LPR”-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk). The SMM assessed that one of the vehicles was possibly an MLRS (assessed as a modified BM-21 Grad, 122mm).

The SMM also observed the presence of other hardware in “LPR”-controlled areas north of Veselohorivka: one multi-purpose armoured vehicle (MT-LB) and five infantry fighting vehicles (four BMP-2 and one BRM-1K).

The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM again observed eight anti-tank mines at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk; see SMM Daily Report 6 February 2016).

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties near the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in the vicinity of Marinka. At the scene of the incident, the SMM saw the wreckage of a minivan 2-5m from the tarmac on the southern side of the H15 highway. The vehicle showed damage consistent with an explosion of an anti-tank mine or a similar explosive device. Near the vehicle, the SMM observed a crater, which it also assessed as consistent with such an explosion. Debris was widely scattered on both sides of the highway. The mutilated body of a man lay 3m off the tarmac on the northern side of the road, opposite the site of the explosion. The SMM also observed the body of a woman lying face down on the tarmac, with a large pool of blood near her head. The SMM spoke to two men who identified themselves as the woman’s husband and brother; they said she was a 34-year-old resident of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). The two men told the SMM that the minivan had been driving in the field parallel to the H15 road, towards government-controlled areas, in an attempt to avoid the queue of vehicles waiting to cross the contact line when the explosion occurred. According to them and other witnesses with whom the SMM spoke, only the driver was in the minivan at the time. They said the woman had been standing on the highway and had been killed by the explosion. They also said the blast had injured a man, who they described as a 60-year-old resident of Makiivka, who had also been standing beside the line-up of vehicles. They said he was taken by ambulance from Marinka to government-controlled areas.

The SMM spoke with Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at the first checkpoint on H15 who confirmed that the explosion had occurred at 07:55hrs, and told the SMM that the injured man had been taken to hospital in Kurakhove (government-controlled, 40km west of Donetsk). The SMM visited the hospital and spoke with medical staff and a Ukrainian police officer who said that the man had died of wounds after arriving at the hospital.

The SMM followed up on reported shelling on 9 February at two houses on Andrusova Street in the Petrovskyi district of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city (20km south-west of Donetsk city centre). The SMM was accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and an armed “DPR” member. At the first house, the SMM assessed that the several shrapnel-impact traces in the northern walls were not fresh, which the homeowner confirmed. At a neighbouring house, the SMM observed damage to a wooden fence and more-recent shrapnel-impact traces on the southern wall. The SMM, however, did not see any shrapnel debris in the area, and the owner explained that he had already disposed of it. The SMM was not able to complete its assessment since whilst still at the location another armed “DPR” member arrived and demanded the SMM leave immediately*.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical infrastructure. The SMM monitored on-going repair work to a water pipeline between “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk).

On 9 February the SMM visited a Ukrainian Border Guard checkpoint 6.5km south of the Senkivka (200km north-east of Kyiv, Chernihiv region) three-way international border crossing between Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation. The checkpoint blocked the main road leading to several Ukrainian villages in the district of Shchors, located near the border with the Russian Federation. The deputy head of the Border Guard Service unit told the SMM that access to those villages was restricted and warned the SMM road conditions were poor in the direction of the villages of Plohiv and Lipivka: the former has been allegedly unpopulated for several years, while the latter since spring or summer 2015 following a fire that forced   Lipivka’s seven inhabitants to evacuate. The SMM visited the villages of Hrinivka, Kliusy and Hirsk, and observed a calm situation. The SMM was escorted by two officers of the Border Guard throughout its visit*.

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

*Restrictions to the 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 mine threats, damaged infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the situation in Donbas. “LPR” members continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring many areas alongside the border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.

Denial of access:

  • An armed “DPR” member demanded the SMM leave Andrusova Street in the Petrovskyi district of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city.  

Conditional access:

  • Ukrainian Border Guards personnel escorted the SMM throughout its visit in the border area in the district of Shchors (Chernihiv region).

Other impediments:

  • The SMM UAV came under small-arms fire over areas near “LRP”-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk).

 

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

[2]    All times in this report refer to Eastern European Time.