Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 31 January 2016

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM observed a large number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. It continued to visit heavy weapons holding areas and permanent storage sites. The Mission encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, mostly in areas not controlled by the Government*. It continued to facilitate and monitor repair work on critical infrastructure along the contact line. The Mission monitored a protest march in Lviv in which participants called for the release of so-called political prisoners.

The SMM observed a sharp increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region on both 30 and 31 January[1]. In particular, positioned at a “DPR”-controlled area 6km north-west of Donetsk city centre between 8:55 and 14:35hrs[2] on 30 January, it heard, among other ceasefire violations, 91 undetermined explosions, 101 bursts of small arms (60) and heavy-machine-gun (41) fire and in total 544 single shots from both small arms and heavy-machine-guns from locations approximately 2.5-6km north, north-east, west, and north-west of its position. The following day at the same location, between 9:00 and 15:00hrs, the SMM heard 47 undetermined explosions, as well as five bursts of small arms and eight bursts of heavy-machine-guns 5-8km to the south-west and north-west. 

The SMM recorded several ceasefire violations in the wider Horlivka area. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on 30 January, the SMM in the space of 30 minutes heard 46 explosions and approximately 160 rounds of heavy-machine-gun fire from the direction of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk). A resident of the village had called the SMM just prior to this observation, saying the village was under heavy shelling.

In areas north-east of Mariupol, the SMM recorded ceasefire violations. Whilst in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) on 30 January, the SMM heard several explosions and small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire. The following day, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions whilst near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol) and later another four whilst in government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the latter coming from a south-easterly direction.

The security situation remained relatively calm in Luhansk region. The SMM did, however, observe six ceasefire violations, hearing: an undetermined impact 4km north-west of its position in the “LPR”-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) on 30 January;  one undetermined explosion south-east of its position in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) on 30 January; three small-arms shots 1km south of its position in the “LPR”-controlled part of Zolote on 31 January; and six undetermined explosions 5-7km south of its position near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) on 31 January. The two remaining violations were assessed as training related, observed whilst near government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk) and near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk), both on 30 January.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure, noting repair work in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) on 30 and 31 January. A mirror patrol in nearby “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk city centre) on 30 January heard one undetermined explosion, 14 bursts and 20 single shots of heavy-machine-gun fire, three bursts of light-machine-gun fire and one burst of automatic grenade launcher (AGL), 2-7km to the north-north-east and north-north-west. The following day at the same location between 10:00 and 14:55hrs, the SMM heard three explosions and 32 single shots from 600m to 2km south and south-east of its position. The SMM – monitoring repair work on electricity power lines near government-controlled Artemove (40km north of Donetsk) on 30 January – heard 25 single shots 2-3km to the south-east. On 30 January in government-controlled Kirove (42km north of Donetsk) – whilst monitoring power line repair work – the SMM heard 50 single shots of small arms approximately 1km to the south-south-east. On the same day, the Mission also monitored repairs to a water pipeline on the north-western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). A mirror patrol in the area of government-controlled Dzerzhynsk (43km north-east of Donetsk) heard approximately 70 single shots some 3km to the west. The SMM monitored demining and repair work near government-controlled Shumy (42km north-east of Donetsk) on 31 January, and water-pipeline repairs on both sides of the contact line in the Zolote area (60km north-west of Luhansk) on 30 and 31 January, without incident.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that most weapons previously verified as withdrawn to these sites were present. The exception was noted at one site, where the serial numbers of ten tanks (eight T-72 and two T-64) were different from those previously recorded.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 31 stationary tanks (T-64 and T-72) near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km south-west of Luhansk) on 30 January; 30 tanks near “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk) on 31 January; one tank (T-64) near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk) on 30 January; and one tank (T-64) on a flatbed truck near government-controlled Krasnoarmiisk (55km north-west of Donetsk) on 31 January.

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 it 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: 54 towed howitzers (18 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm, 18 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm and 18 D20, 152mm) and 11 multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm). In addition, five Addendum-proscribed mortars (three towed PM 38, 120mm and two 2S10 Vasilyok, 82mm) were recorded for the first time. Three previously-recorded towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) were missing.

In a “DPR”-controlled area beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such a location and observed: two self-propelled howitzers (2S1, 122mm) and six towed howitzers (2A65, Msta-B, 152mm). Two previously-recorded towed howitzers (2A65, Msta-B, 152mm) were missing.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed 14 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) on 30 January.

The SMM also observed other military hardware: three armoured personnel carriers (APC; BMP-1) near Trokhizbenka on 30 January; one APC (BMP-2) near government-controlled Petrivka (27km north of Luhansk) on 30 January; one APC (BMP-1) near Luhansk city on 30 January; three reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM), one supply truck, and one signals station vehicle near government-controlled Voitove (33km north-west of Luhansk) on 30 January; three APCs (BTR-70) and seven Humvees with turret-mounted 14.5mm machine-guns near government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), and later near government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), on 31 January; a camouflaged armoured military-type vehicle between two civilian houses in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) on 30 January; five APCs (BTRs) and one BMP-1 stationary between civilian houses in government-controlled Pavlopil (26km northeast of Mariupol) on 31 January; and, 30 tracked infantry fighting vehicles (BMP), 20 armoured tracked vehicles (MT-LB), several artillery pieces, several command vehicles, engineering vehicles and military-type trucks near “DPR”–controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk) on 31 January.

After having been denied entry the previous day*, the SMM on 31 January saw several crates, some of them containing 122mm artillery ordnance, at a military-type compound near “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor impediments facing civilians crossing the contact line. The commander of a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint close to Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) told the SMM that he had orders not to allow residents of the village to pass through the checkpoint. The acting head of the village council and nine other residents later told the SMM that freedom-of-movement restrictions constituted the main problem facing them.

In Dnepropetrovsk on 31 January – following media reports that a statute of a Soviet leader had been toppled two days before – the SMM noted a graffiti-covered pedestal. All that remained of the 12.5-ton bronze statute – which had honoured Grigoriy Petrovskiy, to whom the city partially owes its name – were its two feet.

On 29 January in Lviv, the SMM monitored approximately 500, mostly young people, with 75 of them wearing camouflage clothing, marching through the streets. Some of them held banners of, amongst others, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Right Sector. Speakers addressing the crowd called for the release of what they termed “political prisoners”. Ten police officers oversaw the event, which passed off peacefully.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, Lviv 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 “LPR” members refused to allow the SMM to enter a military-type compound near “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk) on 30 January.

Conditional access:

  • On 30 January, close to the “LPR” checkpoint immediately south of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), armed “LPR” members insisted on seeing SMM patrol members’ identification, and knowing the purpose of the patrol, before allowing the SMM to proceed towards the checkpoint.
  • At a “DPR” checkpoint near Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), armed “DPR” members on 30 January insisted on searching the trunks of SMM vehicles, saying it was a condition of passage through the checkpoint.
  • On 31 January, on the north-eastern outskirts of Luhansk, armed “LPR” members insisted on seeing SMM patrol members’ identification and their patrol plan, before allowing the SMM to proceed towards the “LPR” checkpoint immediately south of Stanytsia Luhanska.

Delay:

  • The SMM was delayed for 18 minutes at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Pryovrazhne (19km north-east of Mariupol) before being allowed to proceed.

Other impediments:

  • En route from Kominternove to Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) on 30 and 31 January, the SMM was confronted on both days with an unmanned makeshift barricade. Assessing it dangerous to remove, the SMM did not proceed.

[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