Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 12 February 2016

This report is for media and the general public

The SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations in Donetsk region.[1] In Luhansk region, it recorded a number of ceasefire violations, some of them assessed as training related.  The Mission continued to visit heavy weapons holding areas and permanent storage sites. The SMM encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions in areas not under government control.* If followed up on reports about bomb threats in Rivne region and a blockade of trucks with Russian Federation registration plates transiting Ukraine in Zakarpattia region.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Positioned in Donetsk city centre during the night of 11-12 February, the SMM heard 85 undetermined explosions 15-20km to the west.

In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), between 17:10 and 23:50hrs on 12 February, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions, several rounds from heavy machine guns, and 40 shots from automatic cannons (73mm) 5-6km south-east from its position.  

Whilst at the “DPR”-controlled central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 10:48 and 14:15hrs[2] on 12 February, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions at locations ranging from 4-8km to the north, north-west and west of its position and heard 120 short bursts (two-four rounds each) of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire to the south-west of its position.

In Debaltseve (“DPR”-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk) between 12:30 and 12:35hrs the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions, 7km west of its position.

Whilst facilitating and monitoring repairs of gas pipelines in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard between 13:07 and 14:07 six undetermined explosions, bursts of small-arms fire and single shots, at locations ranging from 0.5-2km to the east of its position. Due to security considerations, the repair works had been suspended upon the decision of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Marinka.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded a number of ceasefire violations. Whilst in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), between 12:25 and 12:30hrs, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions. In “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk) between 13:25 and 13:26hrs, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 5km south-west of its position. Between 14:01 and 14:05hrs, at the same location, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 5km south of its position.

The SMM assessed that four undetermined explosions originated from known government training sites in Trokhizbenka (government-controlled, 33km north-west of Luhansk), whereas 12 undetermined explosions and on-going live-fire exercises occurred in “LPR”-controlled Hannivka training area (40km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM followed up on reports about shelling in Petrovskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 20km west of Donetsk city centre), where on Letchikov Street 50 it observed a fire-damaged garage. The inside of the roof was blackened and burned, suggesting it had been hit by a round; no impact craters were visible. The SMM could not ascertain the direction of fire or ammunition used. Inside the garage the SMM observed wreckages of bicycles, motorcycles and spare car parts. The owner of the house and the garage stated that the building had been damaged by shelling at 23:30hrs on 11 February. The SMM found no ammunition fragments or shrapnel damage inside it.

In the “DPR”-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the head of the village council told the SMM that a resident, a 52-year-old man, had been injured by a booby trap that morning and hospitalized in Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM met five elderly male and female residents, as well as a relative of a second victim, a 65-year-old man who had been killed. They told the SMM that the two persons had visited a shop located in the “DPR”-controlled area. They said that at 8:00hrs residents had heard two explosions and seen that the blast had killed one and injured another civilian. In the hospital in Horlivka the SMM spoke with the head nurse, who said the deceased had been transferred to the morgue, while the wounded person had been operated and was being treated in the re-animation department. According to her, the wounded person was found unconscious on the spot with wounds to the head, chest, left wrist and the knee. The medical doctor who spoke with the SMM said he was in a critical condition.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found it abandoned, as observed since 9 December. The site originally held 32 tanks (T-72), four mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) and one field artillery gun (D44, 85mm).       

The SMM also revisited an “LPR” permanent storage site and noted that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to this site were present.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 31 static tanks (T-64, T-72) at a training range in “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: three tanks (T-64) in “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol).

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 locations and observed: 12 self-propelled multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), 11 self-propelled guns (2S3 Akatsyia, 152mm), two Addendum-regulated mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm), and three mortars (PM-38, 120mm) recorded for the first time.

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed six towed howitzer (D30, 122mm) in a static position in training range and a convoy consisting of six URAL military-type trucks towing six howitzers (D30, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM monitored the presence of other hardware. It observed: in Makiivka (“DPR”-controlled, 10km east of Donetsk) at least ten armed individuals in military-type clothing guarding the entrances of three compounds and 17 military-type trucks. In addition it observed one military-type vehicle with antennas, ten multi-purpose light armoured towing vehicles (MT-LB, SA-13), at least eight military-type trucks and several armed men in military-type uniform inside one of the compounds. The SMM also observed, over a wall surrounding the compound, what appeared to be an elevated barrel from a weapon (probably 100mm or bigger); in Bezimenne one mine-clearing tank, two armoured personnel carriers (BTR) and a BTR towing a 23mm gun; in Donetsk city one armoured personnel carrier (BTR-80); in Debaltseve two armed men in military-type uniform with an armoured vehicle with a mounted 9K35 Strela-10 air defence system;  in “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west Luhansk) a convoy consisting of three MT-LBs (one mounted with a 14.5mm heavy machine-gun, KPVT) and one BTR.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint close to Marinka the SMM observed a queue consisting of 240 civilian cars and six buses lined up to proceed to government-controlled areas and 259 vehicles lined up to proceed in the opposite direction. The SMM saw some 100 pedestrians waiting to travel in both directions through the checkpoint. Several hours later, the SMM observed a queue consisting of 220 vehicles and one bus lined up at the government checkpoint to proceed into “DPR”-controlled areas, while 12 cars were lined up to pass to government-controlled areas.  

The SMM visited border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government. In “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartyzansk border crossing point (69km south-east of Luhansk) staffed by “border guards”. The SMM did not observe any queues. The SMM saw one truck being inspected by “border guards”.

The SMM followed up on media reports about bomb threats in Rivne region (180km north-east of Lviv) and spoke to a representative of the regional police who confirmed bomb threats had been made against the Orthodox Holy Resurrection Cathedral and two against the Seminary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate. According to him, all sites had been searched and no explosives had been found.

The SMM followed up on media reports about a blockade of trucks from the Russian Federation transiting through Ukraine and spoke with the head of the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) in Zakarpattia region. He told the SMM that this action had started on 11 February in Nyzhni Vorota (Zakarpattia region, 120km west of Ivano-Frankivsk), initiated by the non-governmental organizations Karpatska Sich, Pobratymy Ukrainy (Union of ATO Veterans), and Aidar volunteer battalion, joined by the Right Sector. The interlocutor said they were not blocking trucks with Russian Federation registration plates, but turning them back. According to him, the blockade was not limited in time and about 50 people were participating. He said that since 11 February already 50 trucks with Russian Federation number plates had been turned back. He added that the activists planned to start the same campaign in Volyn and Rivne regions. According to him, participants of the blockade had written to Zakarpattia Regional Council to ask for the official restriction of Russian trucks passing through Ukraine. A member of the national police in Zakarpattia region told the SMM that no violations of public order in relation to the blockade of Russian trucks had occurred on 11 February.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi 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 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:

  • In Debaltseve an armed man demanded at gun point (AK-47) the SMM leave the area.
  • “LPR” members denied the SMM access to Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk).

Conditional access:

  • Armed “LPR” members in Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk) insisted on seeing SMM’s patrol plan.

 

[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.