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

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It observed shelling damage to houses. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM visited border crossing points, including in areas not controlled by the Government. In Kharkiv and Odessa regions, the Mission monitored movement restrictions on Ukrainian and Russian Federation-registered trucks.

The SMM observed a significant number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region.[1] Positioned in Donetsk city centre on the evening of 18 February, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions approximately 7-10km north-west of its position. In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), between 15:58 and 23:00hrs on 18 February, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions and some 200 bursts of heavy machine-gun fire approximately 8-10km to the east. In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 65 undetermined explosions approximately 10km east of its position in less than an hour. Similarly, whilst near “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (65km east of Donetsk) in under an hour, the SMM heard at least 70 undetermined explosions 3-5km north of its position. The SMM also heard eight undetermined explosions north-west and north-east of its position near government-controlled Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol).

The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region. Those observed around government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) were largely attributable to live-fire exercises. However, the SMM also noted 28 undetermined explosions 5km east of its position in “LPR”-controlled Alchevsk (40km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM also noted 20 explosions, the sound of which was consistent with artillery shells exploding upon impact, 15km east of its position in the vicinity of “LPR” controlled Kalynove (50km west of Luhansk).  

The SMM followed-up on reports of shelling in Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk). The SMM examined damage to several houses, including fresh damage to the roof of a house; the owner told the SMM that it had also been shelled two weeks earlier and that he had also been wounded at that time. Whilst moving to assess further damage in the area, the SMM heard several shots fired 300m to the north-east and left the area.

The SMM continued following up on reports of civilians killed by a grenade explosion at Plekhanivska bus station in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk) (See SMM Daily Report 19 February 2016). At the Makiivka hospital, the chief doctor informed that the injured civilian (60 year-old man), who had been brought to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, had died.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site and found it empty as it has been observed since 9 December 2015.  The SMM had verified as withdrawn to that site 32 tanks (T-72), four mortars (2B9, 82mm), one anti-tank gun (D-44, 85mm).

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed on 18 February revealed the presence of eight tanks on the eastern outskirts of “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city in the vicinity of Luhansk airport. On 19 February, the SMM’s long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted one tank near “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites, the SMM observed three tanks (T-64) and a group of 35-40 “DPR” members dressed in military-type clothing, apparently preparing for training, near “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (65km east of Donetsk); six tanks in the area of Bohoiavlenka (government-controlled, 48km south-west of Donetsk); and 20 tanks (T64) near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-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 locations and observed six anti-tank guns (D-48, 85mm) and ten self‑propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm). The SMM noted that four self‑propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm), first noted missing in mid-January 2016, were still absent.

In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed six multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS, BM21 Grad, 122mm); six towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) and four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed one tactical surface-to-air missile launcher SA-8 (9K33, Osa, 210mm) near government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites, the SMM observed ten MLRS and 17 towed artillery pieces in an area east of “LPR”-controlled Miusynsk (62km south-west of Luhansk); six stationary howitzers (D‑30, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM also observed the presence of other hardware. Aerial aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed seven armoured vehicles and over 60 military-type trucks in north-western areas of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city. Additionally, the SMM UAV spotted close to the contact line: one armoured personnel carrier (APC) near “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (23km east of Mariupol); two APCs near Leninske (“DPR”-controlled, 24km east of Mariupol); one APC near “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol); and three APCs (including a BMP-1) near government-controlled Bohdanivka (45km south of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. In government-controlled Rodina (65km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM monitored repair works on water pipelines. In “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (34km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM continued to facilitate a window of silence on both sides of the contact line for repair works to high voltage pylons and a water pump near the contact line.

The SMM monitored the security and humanitarian situation near the contact line. The SMM spoke with two men and eight women (50 to 80 years old) in government-controlled areas of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), who said they had just travelled from “LPR”-controlled areas of Zolote to receive their pensions. They said they had travelled in a group of some 170 pensioners, had used an unofficial crossing route and had been stopped by ten armed men who had pointed their guns at the group and made them wait for two hours before allowing them to proceed. The interlocutors related that the armed men had been verbally abusive. The group had been again stopped further along the road by other armed men and made to wait another ten minutes, they said.

The SMM visited border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government. At the “DPR”-controlled Uspenka crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed five civilian trucks (one bearing Russian Federation license plates, three with Ukrainian plates and one with Belarusian plates) and 49 civilian cars (31 cars bearing Ukrainian plates, 17 Russian plates and one car with plates from Poland) waiting to cross. At “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 35 civilian cars queuing to enter the Russian Federation (seven with Russian Federation plates, one Belarusian, one Georgian and 26 with Ukrainian plates), five trucks (four with Russian Federation plates and one with Ukrainian plates) and around 80 civilian cars parked in the side parking lot. The SMM monitored the traffic flow for an hour and observed civilians crossing into Ukraine with small to moderate-size bags. Additionally, the SMM saw two buses with Ukrainian plates and one truck with Belarusian plates crossing into the Russian Federation, as well as one bus and one truck with Ukrainian plates crossing into Ukraine, and one civilian tanker labelled “Flammable”, which was boarded by a an armed man in camouflage immediately after crossing.

In Odessa and Kharkiv regions, the SMM monitored movement restrictions on Ukrainian and Russian Federation-registered trucks. On 18 February, the SMM continued monitoring the situation at a checkpoint 10km west of Odessa city, where activists of the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) and Civilian Corps Azov maintain a checkpoint to prevent commercial trucks registered in the Russian Federation from transiting through Odessa region. The SMM observed a truck with Russian Federation plates, parked close to the checkpoint. The SMM then saw several members of the Association of International Automotive Transport Operators and several truck drivers approaching the activists and asking them to stop the blockade. In the evening, members of the Association informed the SMM that the driver of the mentioned truck had been allowed to continue his journey and that members of the Association had escorted the truck to the Ukrainian border crossing point of Starokozache, located in the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district (45km west of Odessa) along the Ukrainian border with Moldova. The SMM visited the international border crossing point in Bachivsk (178km north-east of Sumy, 247km north-east of Kharkiv) where it counted 118 stationary trucks with Ukrainian license plates. The SMM did not observe trucks with Russian Federation plates. The head of the customs service informed the SMM that the Ukrainian trucks had been denied entry into the Russian Federation. Some of the drivers told the SMM they had been waiting for five days.

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

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfillment 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:

  • Security guards at the entrance of the regional administration building denied the SMM access to the regional council session in Odessa, despite the fact the SMM had requested it in due time. No explanation was provided by the regional council.

Delay:

  • In “DPR”-controlled Yenakiieve (41km north-east of Donetsk), an unarmed “DPR” member stopped the SMM and demanded that it wait for a Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) representative. After a 32-minute delay, the SMM was able to proceed. The JCCC representative did not arrive.

Conditional access:

  • Armed “DPR” members demanded to inspect the trunks of the SMM vehicles and monitors’ backpacks at a checkpoint in the vicinity of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk).

 

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