Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 29 January 2016

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and in Luhansk regions. 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. In Kyiv, the SMM monitored two marches. It continued to facilitate and monitor repair works on critical infrastructure.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and in Luhansk regions[1]. During the late evening of 28 January, in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions, several bursts of small-arms fire and shots from automatic grenade launchers in an area 4.5km south-west. Also on the night of 28 January, in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard a total of eight undetermined explosions – assessed as caused by mortars – and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire in areas 6km north and 5km west and south-west.

On 29 January, from a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard eight bursts of small-arms fire and heavy-machine-gun fire in areas 2-3km to the north, west and north-west, between 9:15hrs and 14:30hrs[2]. Whilst in government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions north of its position. While positioned in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard 12 bursts of what it assessed to be heavy-machine-gun fire in an area 3-6km to the north-north-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM, positioned close to the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint near Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk), heard an explosion in an area approximately 5km east, assessed to have been caused by heavy artillery. Near government-controlled Spivakivka (61km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard small-arms fire, automatic grenade launchers and heavy-machine-gun fire in an area 3-5km north-west. The SMM also heard three undetermined explosions in an area north-east of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk). Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Perevalsk (38km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard undetermined explosions in an area approximately 15km north-west. Near Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard four undetermined explosions in an area 8-10km north-east of its position.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to these sites were present.

Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 22 tanks (T-64 and T-72) engaged in live-firing exercises near “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: 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and ten anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).

Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed 14 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed a convoy of 21 civilian trucks (12 with Russian Federation license plates, nine with Ukrainian plates) being escorted by “LPR” “police” near “LPR”-controlled Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk) in the direction of  Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk). The SMM observed construction material in four trucks that were not covered. The remaining 17 trucks were covered.

At the border crossing point in Dovzhanskyi the SMM observed five civilian cars (three with Russian Federation license plates and two with Ukrainian plates) queued to cross into Ukraine and 20 civilian cars, two buses, and two trucks (plates not visible) waiting to enter the Russian Federation. The SMM had last visited the crossing point on 16 January.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure. In Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM monitored on both sides of the contact line as water pipelines were being repaired.

A “DPR” member in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka said that flights of the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – in support of facilitating and monitoring adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works – would be restricted to a small area over the power line and pipeline works only. A Russian Federation Armed Forces officer from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) agreed and claimed that if the UAV deviated from that small area, its safety could not be guaranteed. As a consequence, the UAV was not launched*.

In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a march organized by the Svoboda party in commemoration of the “Krut Heroes” of 1918. Approximately 300 people (80 per cent men, 20 per cent women, between 16 and 40 years old, and several children) marched from the Arsenalna Metro Station to the memorial site at Askolodov Mohyla. Some marchers wore camouflage clothing and some were masked. Some carried the flags of the Svoboda party, the non-governmental organization Sokil, the Ukrainian national flag and red and black flags. The march, escorted by some 80 police officers (90% men), passed off peacefully. A short time later the SMM monitored another march (along the same route) of approximately 80 persons, led by 20 men wearing balaclavas, some wearing military-style clothing. The marchers, some of whom carried Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) flags, were escorted by approximately 50 members of the National Guard in riot gear and some 80 riot police. The SMM observed no incidents by the time it left the area.

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

*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:

  • “LPR” members denied the SMM access to a site in Luhansk city where it had been alleged that heavy weapons were located. This was the fifth time in as many attempts since 20 January that the “LPR” has denied the SMM access to this site.

Conditional access:

  • “DPR” members stopped the SMM at a checkpoint in Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) and requested passports. After presenting these, the SMM was allowed to continue.

Other impediments:

  • A “DPR” member and a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer from the JCCC told the SMM that they could not guarantee the safety of the SMM’s UAV if it was launched in an area near Horlivka. Consequently, the UAV was not launched.

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

[2] All times in this report are in Eastern European Time