Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 3 February 2016

The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, and several in Luhansk region. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The Mission encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority in areas not under government control.* It observed new mobile checkpoints in Luhansk region. The SMM continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line, and saw civilians frustrated at checkpoint queues in Donetsk region. The SMM observed a demonstration in Odessa and visited a border crossing point in Kharkiv region.

On 2 February the SMM recorded a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region[1]. While in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) between 19:11 and 20:41hrs, [2] the SMM heard 102 undetermined explosions and two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire in areas 7-15km north-west of its position. In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), between 19:00 and 19:30hrs, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions, including 120mm mortar, 10km north of its position. In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) between 16:23 and 17:45hrs, the SMM heard approximately 100 undetermined artillery explosions 10-12km south-west of its position and 15 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-5km south-east of its position. While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, between 17:02 and 19:21hrs, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions 8-10km west-north-west and north-west of its location.

On 3 February, positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 07:55 and 14:58hrs the SMM heard 37 undetermined explosions, and two bursts of small-arms fire in areas 3-8km to the west and north-west. In government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), between 10:44 and 13:50hrs, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions in areas 1-2km south-south-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded several ceasefire violations. The SMM, positioned in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), heard multiple outgoing artillery explosions in an area 2-3km north-west of its position between 16:50-17:00hrs and six explosions and bursts of small-arms fire in an area approximately 2-3km south-west of its position earlier in the day, all of which were assessed to be training exercises. The SMM also observed live-fire exercises in government-controlled Spivakivka (61km north-west of Luhansk).

In Vodiane (19km north-east of Donetsk) a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that they had exchanged fire with “DPR” members situated in Kominternove (23km north-east of Donetsk) the previous evening between 19:30 and 20:00hrs, following what he said was an attempt by “DPR” members to enter Vodiane. An exchange of fire around that time and area was recorded by the SMM camera placed in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). Residents in Kominternove told the SMM that they had heard an exchange of fire the previous evening. The SMM was unable to travel directly between Kominternove and Vodiane as an unmanned makeshift barricade blocked the road.*

The SMM monitored the withdrawal of weapons regulated by the Addendum to the Package of Measures. In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw a stationary tank 5km north-west of its position, 2km north of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve. The SMM also saw fresh tracks from what it assessed to have been a tank in Kominternove.

Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 15 stationary tanks 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: 24 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and 67 towed howitzers (18 2A65 Msta, 152mm; 18 Giatsint B, 152mm; six D-30, 122mm; eight 2S3 Akatsiya, 122mm, one of which had been recently added, and 17 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). The SMM also observed for the first time that seven towed howitzers 2S3 Akatsiya, 122mm and one 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm were missing.

The SMM observed the presence of other hardware: one anti-aircraft gun (23mm calibre) on a ZIL vehicle in the area of government-controlled Pryovrazhne (19km north-east of Mariupol); five armoured vehicles (BDRM-2) in the area of government-controlled Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol); one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1) near government-controlled Marinka.

Between “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city and “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed new mobile checkpoints at every main road junction – four in total – each manned by two to three armed men.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line. Near a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on the H15 road (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was stopped by approximately 20 civilians standing in the road, who shouted their frustration at the SMM for the length of time they said they had been waiting to cross into government-controlled areas. The SMM observed 100 civilian vehicles. The SMM passed the checkpoint and noted that it appeared to be closed temporarily, with personnel not letting civilians through. From a short distance a short time later, the SMM observed that vehicle traffic began to move through the checkpoint.   

Outside the Odessa city council building, while a session was underway inside, the SMM observed some 100 pro-Maidan activists (20 per cent women) including 22 members of the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) and Odessa self-defence wearing camouflage-type clothing and members of the Svoboda and Batkivshchyna parties outside the building who demanded that the council adopt a memorandum critical of what it said was Russian Federation involvement in Ukraine. Eight police officers were present, with 60 members of the National Guard in buses nearby. The SMM observed a disturbance when one male demonstrator was placed in a police vehicle. Some shouting and shoving between police and members of Right Sector ensued but quickly passed when news of the adoption of the memorandum reached the demonstrators, who then dispersed.

At the Hoptivka border crossing point  (40km north of Kharkiv), border guards told the SMM that a woman had been apprehended on 21 January after attempting to enter Ukraine using an “LPR” “passport”. According to them, the woman had exited Ukraine through Luhansk. The woman was released after her identity had been verified and she had paid a fine, the guards said.

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 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:

  • Armed “DPR” members at two different checkpoints in Lukove (41km north-east of Mariupol) denied the SMM access to the centre of the village.
  • Armed “LPR” members denied the SMM access to an “LPR” camp in Almazna (55km west of Luhansk).
  • Armed “LPR” members at a checkpoint in Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk) denied the SMM access to the village.
  • Armed “LPR” members denied the SMM access to a site in Luhansk city where weapons were allegedly stored. The SMM informed the JCCC, although after 20 minutes of waiting for access, the SMM left.

Delay:

  • Armed “DPR” members delayed the SMM for 22 minutes at a checkpoint Prymorske (39km north-east of Mariupol).
  • An armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM in Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) and denied it access to Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) and Pryshyb (33km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM contacted an “LPR” “commander” who told the SMM they could proceed. The SMM continued after 37 minutes.

Conditional access:

  • Armed “LPR” members at a mobile checkpoint south of the Stanytsia Luhansk bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk) stopped the SMM and checked its patrol plan before allowing the SMM to proceed.

Other impediments:

  • En route from Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) to Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM encountered again an unmanned makeshift barricade which prevented it to travel further.

[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 are in Eastern European Time