Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 2 February 2016

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM observed a significant number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and several in Luhansk region. It continued to visit heavy weapons holding areas and permanent storage sites. The Mission encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions in areas not controlled by the Government.* It continued to facilitate and monitor repair works on critical infrastructure. The Mission monitored peaceful demonstrations in Kyiv and Chernivtsi.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.[1] On 1 February between 20:30 and 21:00hrs,[2] the SMM heard 237 explosions, assessed to include 120mm mortars, and at least 100 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire in or around Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk).

On 2 February, the SMM heard 514 undetermined explosions, over 100 bursts of heavy‑machine-gun fire, and over 1,000 shots of small-arms fire 3‑5km west of its position at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre). A large number of the explosions were assessed to be from direct-fire weapons, most probably from infantry fighting vehicles (BMP), with the remainder consisting of mortar and automatic grenade launcher (AGL) fire, and possibly artillery and tank fire. In government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions at locations between 10 and 20km south-east and south-west of its position as well as an 82mm mortar explosion 1km south-east of its position.

The SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions and 26 rounds of small-arms and heavy‑machine-gun fire at locations between 5 and 15km west‑north‑west of “DPR”‑controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). From a temporary observation point 2km north of Debaltseve, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 4-6km north-west of its position. Between 16:23-17:00hrs, the SMM heard 25 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 18 bursts of small‑arms fire, and five AGL-round impacts from approximately 2km south-east of its position in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk).                                

The SMM’s camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) captured multiple explosions as well as traces of incoming and outgoing fire in and around Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) between 19:36 and 19:55hrs.

In Luhansk region, the SMM observed multiple explosions and other violations of the ceasefire at various locations south-east, north-east, north-west, and west of Luhansk.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited one “DPR” permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to this site were present.

Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence – in violation of the respective withdrawal line – of one tank within a prepared defensive position near government-controlled Novhorodske (36km north of Donetsk) and two tanks in “DPR”‑controlled Donetsk city on 30 January. Also in violation of the withdrawal line, the SMM saw a stationary tank facing east 5km north‑west of the SMM’s temporary observation point 2km north of Debaltseve.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed 27 tanks (T-64s and T-72s) in and around a military training ground in “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km 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 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B 152mm), 12 multiple launch rocket systems (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm), 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), 24 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 26 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), as well as a number of Addendum-regulated weapons, namely 20 tanks (T64) and 28 mortars (25 2B11 and three PM-38, both 120mm).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside the holding areas, the SMM observed 14 stationary self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) at a military training ground in “LPR”‑controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed the presence of other hardware: Between Donetsk and “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (5km east of Donetsk), the SMM observed an infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-2) and an armoured personnel carrier (BTR) being guarded by two armed “DPR” members. At the Central City Hospital in Debaltseve, the SMM observed three white armoured personnel carriers (MTLB) and three green communications trucks (GAS-24) as well as ten armed “DPR” members in military-type clothing entering the hospital carrying bags of what appeared to be personal provisions. In “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city, the SMM observed six MTLBs mounted with 9K35 Strela‑10 anti‑aircraft missile systems and three Ural military support vehicles.

The seven previously reported anti-tank mines (see Daily Report, 6 December 2015) observed on the west side of the “DPR” checkpoint in Yasynuvata (“DPR”-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk) remain there.

The SMM visited border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government. At the “DPR”-controlled Uspenka border crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 51 civilian vehicles (seven with Russian Federation, one with Belarusian and the rest with Ukrainian license plates) and around 45 civilian trucks (four with Russian Federation and the rest with Ukrainian license plates) queuing to proceed into the Russian Federation. According to civilians waiting at the border, it usually takes over four hours to enter the Russian Federation, while exiting it normally takes less than thirty minutes. According to a waiting truck driver, the waiting time for trucks is 18 to 20 hours.

At the “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne border crossing point (53km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed approximately 70 mostly Ukrainian registered civilian vehicles and three Ukrainian registered busses. At the “LPR”-controlled Verkhnoharasymivka pedestrian border crossing point (57km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM noted no personnel on the “LPR”‑controlled side of the border. According to travellers, controls are conducted on the Russian Federation side of the border by Russian Federation border guards.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation of the civilian population near the contact line. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint south of Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 290 cars and six busses queued westbound and 58 cars queued eastbound, as well as around 100 westbound pedestrians in the morning. In the afternoon, the SMM observed 87 eastbound and 15 westbound cars at the same checkpoint.

Residents of the “DPR”-controlled Zhovanka neighbourhood of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) informed the SMM that the order by the head of the Donetsk regional civil-military administration to close the Zaitseve checkpoint would force the residents to walk through mine fields in order to reach their places of employment in government-controlled Artemivsk (67km north of Donetsk) or risk losing their jobs. The chief medical doctor of the Central Municipal Hospital in Dzerzhynsk (government-controlled, 42km north of Donetsk) confirmed to the SMM that the hospital had treated two men who had stepped on a booby trap while passing through a cultivated field in the vicinity of the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Leninske (8km south-west of Zaitseve). Both men were subsequently released from the hospital.

“DPR” members in Horlivka told the SMM that anyone without a “DPR” business registration wishing to “import” goods in excess of 100kg or EUR 1,000 in value into “DPR”‑controlled areas are “taxed” ten per cent of the value of the goods.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable the repair of water pipes in the government‑controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk).

In Kyiv, the SMM followed up on a media report that an explosive device had damaged the vehicle of a lawyer defending two men accused of murdering journalist Oles Buzina last April. The SMM observed damage including molten plastic by the lower right front door of the vehicle. According to the police, an arson investigation is on-going.

Also in Kyiv, the SMM observed a group of 50 individuals protesting against what they saw as corruption in the national bank system and the persecution of public activists. In Chernivtsi, the SMM monitored peaceful demonstrations on 1 and 2 February of 600 and 400 college-aged people, respectively, protesting the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science’s decision to merge Bukovyna State University of Finance and Economics with Chernivtsi National University.

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

*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:

  • The SMM attempted to enter a site in Luhansk city marked as an “LPR” aircraft repair facility, where security guards denied it entry. The SMM contacted the JCCC, who advised the SMM to leave the site.
  • While the SMM was observing a window of silence in the “LPR”-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), “LPR” members told the SMM that it could not proceed further.

Conditional access:

  • At the Izvaryne border crossing point (53km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM was approached by an “LPR” member who demanded the SMM’s patrol plan and purpose of its visit. After checking the plan, the SMM was allowed to observe the border crossing point from the parking lot but not to access the border crossing point area. The “LPR” member recorded the name and nationality of all patrol members.
  • A mobile patrol of armed “LPR” members was flagged down and stopped the SMM as it was en route to the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhanska Bridge. The SMM was allowed to proceed only after the armed personnel recorded the SMM patrol members’ ID numbers and vehicle plate numbers and examined the SMM’s patrol plan.
  • The “commander” at the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at the bridge south of Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk) informed the SMM that he was under orders to grant the SMM access through the checkpoint and to the wooden bridge but not to let the SMM staff talk to civilians in the checkpoint area.  

 

[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”.

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