Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 8 February 2016

This report is for media and the general public

The SMM observed a significant number of explosions in the early morning hours in Donetsk region compared to the previous day, while the number of violations in Luhansk region remained low. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The Mission encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority in areas not controlled by the Government; in particular, “DPR” members demanded that SMM patrols provide passports, “accreditations” and signed patrol plans in order to proceed – all in violation of the SMM’s mandate.* The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repair works on critical infrastructure, and noted long queues of civilians at checkpoints along the line of contact. The Mission monitored numerous false bomb threats in several cities around Ukraine.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.[1] During the night of 7 to 8 February, the SMM heard approximately 170 automatic grenade launcher (AGS‑17 Plamya) explosions, three anti-tank grenade launcher explosions (both incoming), one unknown explosion, three outgoing heavy-machine-gun bursts, and two to three shots of small-arms fire north-north-east, north, and south-east of its position in government‑controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk). At 21:46hrs,[2] the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded a rocket of undetermined type flying north-east approximately 7km north of the camera site.

Whilst in the government-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 17 shots of small-arms fire outgoing approximately 2km south-east of the SMM, from an “LPR”‑controlled area. Armed men at a checkpoint in the “LPR”-controlled part of Zolote informed the SMM that other “LPR” members had fired on a drone that had been passing over their position. This was reiterated by a local “LPR” “commander” in the “LPR”‑controlled part of Zolote.

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storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to these sites were present, except for one tank whose serial number did not match with the inventory list. The SMM also noted the presence of a tank whose serial number was not recorded on the inventory list.

The SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to these sites were present.

In violation of the weapons’ relevant withdrawal line, at one of the “DPR” permanent storage sites, the SMM observed 15 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), which are heavy weapons regulated by the Minsk Package of Measures.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed a self-propelled mortar (2S9 NONA, 120mm) travelling east along the E-50 highway, west of government-controlled Krasnoarmiisk (55km northwest of Donetsk).

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: 37 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and two mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm). Fifteen 15 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), first noted as missing on 9 December 2015, were again found to be missing.

The SMM observed the presence of other hardware in Luhansk region. At the “LPR”‑controlled checkpoint south of government‑controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed two stationary tracked infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1) and a twin-barrelled anti-aircraft auto-cannon (ZU-23) mounted on a stationary truck.

The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance, noting eight wired anti-tank mines near the first Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on H15 close to government‑controlled Marinka (23km southwest of Donetsk). The SMM observed one unexploded rocket of unknown type east of the road, approximately 2.5km north-east of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM visited border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government. At the “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point, the SMM observed more than 60 civilian cars (equal numbers of Russian and Ukrainian license plates) and two busses with Russian Federation licence plates queuing to enter the Russian Federation. Over a period of approximately thirty minutes, five cars (three with Russian and two with Ukrainian license plates) and six to eight pedestrians crossed the border into the Russian Federation. The SMM observed no one travelling in the opposite direction.

At checkpoints along the line of contact, the SMM recorded long queues. In “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw one bus and approximately 150 civilian cars queuing to enter government-controlled area. At the checkpoint in government‑controlled Berezove (30km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw 40 pedestrians and approximately 120 civilian cars queuing to enter government-controlled area. At the checkpoint in government‑controlled Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk) on H20, the SMM saw 143 civilian cars and three buses queued southbound. At government‑controlled checkpoint on H15 near government-controlled Marinka (23km southwest of Donetsk), the SMM observed 100 civilian cars and 250-300 pedestrians queuing to enter government-controlled area. Queues to enter non-government-controlled areas were significantly shorter to non-existent                  

In a morgue in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties and was shown the body of a male in his mid‑fifties with serious shrapnel injuries and powder burns to his lower right leg (see Daily Report 8 February 2015). According to the autopsy, the cause of death was hypovolemic shock. 

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable the repairs of water infrastructure in the government‑controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) as well as gas pipeline restoration in government-controlled Marinka. While stationary in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk) monitoring the gas line restoration in Marinka, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3-4km north-west of its position.

In Odessa and Kharkiv, the SMM monitored small (50 and 35 individuals, respectively) demonstrations  against the provision of Russian goods and financial services in Ukraine. In Odessa, the SMM observed some demonstrators waving Right Sector and Odessa Self-Defence flags. In Kharkiv, Ukrainian and Svoboda party flags were seen in the crowd.

In Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv, police informed the SMM that they had received false bomb threats targeting civilian infrastructure. In Ivano-Frthe threats targeted three schools, which were subsequently evacuated and searched, police said. In Kharkiv, police informed the SMM that bomb threats targeting the train station and the regional administration building had been received on 7 and 8 February, respectively. In Kyiv, police informed that a threat was made against City Hall. According to the police, no explosive devices were found.The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Chernivtsi, Kherson, Lviv, 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:

  • In government-controlled Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM encountered a makeshift barrier of tires and wooden planks and could not proceed further.
  • Three armed women stopped the SMM from entering the former prison in “LPR”-controlled Chornukhyne (65km south-west of Luhansk) to monitor an armed “LPR” unit located in the compound, saying the “unit commander” was not available.

Conditional access:

  • Armed men at a checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) demanded to inspect the trunks of the SMM vehicles in order to proceed.
  • Twice at the Horlivka city entrance checkpoint, “DPR” members demanded the SMM to exit their cars, and conducted a visual inspection of the patrol vehicles, including the trunk, glove compartment, centre console and back seat area. At a “DPR” permanent storage site, “DPR” members prohibited the SMM from taking pictures.
  • In Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the “DPR” “commander” informed the SMM that he had received orders not to let the SMM patrol past Kominternove and Vodiane.
  • At a “DPR”-checkpoint at the western entrance of Oktiabr (“DPR”-controlled, 29km north-east of Mariupol), the checkpoint “commander” requested to take pictures of the SMM members’ IDs, which the patrol members allowed him to do.
  • At the “DPR”-checkpoint at the eastern entrance to “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr, the “DPR” checkpoint “commander” stated that the SMM would need to provide “accreditations”, passports, and a patrol plan signed by an OSCE official. He took pictures of the SMM members’ IDs.
  • At the “DPR” checkpoint at the entrance to “DPR”-controlled Olenivka, the checkpoint “commander” said SMM refusal to provide national passports at the checkpoint would result in denied access to the “DPR”-controlled area and that the SMM must give advance notice to the “DPR” every time it intends to cross the Line of Contact. He said the post was not a checkpoint, but a “border crossing point” and therefore all persons, including members of international organizations, must show national passports in order to cross.

 

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

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