Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 6 September 2015

 

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The SMM recorded an increase in the number of ceasefire violations compared to previous days in Donetsk region, and one ceasefire violation in Luhansk region.

The overall situation observed by the SMM in Donetsk region remained calm. At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), on 5 September the SMM recorded 19 ceasefire violations – mostly explosions assessed as incoming 82mm and 120mm mortar 3-5km west of its position. On 6 September, at the same observation point the SMM recorded one ceasefire violation[1].  

On 5 September, the SMM together with senior representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC, and a “DPR” member visited “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (22km south-west of Donetsk), which was reportedly shelled on 4 September, around 16:00hrs. The SMM was told by 10-15 residents (mixed gender, aged 65-75) that an 86-year-old man had died after a shell fragment had hit him. The SMM observed no crater or other traces of fresh explosion in the vicinity. The SMM visited the morgue on Illicha Street in Donetsk city, where a pathologist confirmed the date of death and said that it had been caused by a fragment of highly-explosive ordnance.

On 6 September, at the Donetsk railway station, a woman in her fifties told the SMM that residents in the area had requested support from “DPR” for the repair of their damaged houses, but had been told that this would only be done once “the conflict was over”. The SMM spoke with a male resident of Donetsk city’s Kuibyshivskyi district in his sixties who said that his house had been damaged by shelling in May 2014 and that he only received reconstruction material more than a year later. The SMM talked to a male shop owner in Kuibyshivskyi district, who said that the prices have not changed in his shop as a consequence of the new Ukrainian Hryvnia to Russian Rouble exchange rate. He still accepted Hryvnia, he said, but most customers paid with Russian Roubles.

At the humanitarian and logistic centre at the checkpoint in government-controlled Zaitseve (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM spoke with bank and pharmacy employees, who stated that on 6 September they had had approximately 50 customers, whereas the previous two days, they had had approximately 100-150. A bank employee said that there were no restrictions on withdrawal amounts. The pharmacy employee stated that people can place orders by phone and pick up their medicines in one or two days.

In Luhansk region, the situation observed by the SMM remained calm with no ceasefire violations recorded on 5 September and one ceasefire violation recorded on 6 September.

On 5 September, at a “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) training area near Krasnyi Luch (55km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed 11 static multi-launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21). At another location within the same training area, the SMM observed 16 self-propelled howitzers (“Gvozdika” 2S1), 11 MLRS (BM-21), and four towed howitzers (D20, 152mm). On 6 September, at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed 28 static tanks (T-64 and T-72) compared to 30 observed at the same location on 5 September.  On 6 September at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S1), and 11 towed howitzers (D-30) compared to six self-propelled howitzers (2S1, 122mm) observed at the same location on 5 September. The three training areas are behind withdrawal lines.

On 5 September,  a window of silence  jointly facilitated by the SMM and the JCCC office in Luhansk and observed by the SMM resulted in the completion of repairs to electrical lines in “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk) that were destroyed by shelling on 27 August 2015. Some 200 people from neighbouring “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk) and Vesna (15km north-west of Luhansk) benefitted from the restoration of electricity.

On 5 September, the SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At both areas, the SMM found all previously-recorded weapons present. On 6 September, the SMM revisited three “DPR” holding areas. At two areas, the SMM found that all previously-recorded weapons were present. At the third area, the SMM found that three artillery guns (122mm, D-30) were missing and there were three other guns with serial numbers differing from the weapons the SMM previously recorded. The SMM also observed at this location that one of two previously-recorded towed artillery systems (100mm, MT-12 Rapira) was absent. A “DPR” member did not permit the SMM to check the serial number of the second.

The SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that were in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. On 5 September, near government-controlled Berezove (35km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM saw one armoured vehicle (BMP2) with an anti-tank guided missile launcher (Spandrel or Spigot, both over 100mm in calibre). On 5 September, in the area of government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a convoy heading east composed of 14 vehicles, including four trucks towing four howitzers (D-30, 122 mm), one truck towing an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) and eight armoured vehicles (Cougars) with machine guns. On 5 September, the SMM observed a convoy heading west in the area of government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) composed of three trucks with military personnel towing three anti-tank guns MT-12 (100mm).

On 4 September in Lviv, the SMM monitored a peaceful protest by ten young women (aged 15-18), against the Russian-affiliated VS Bank. The protesters held placards with the following statements: “Do not give money to occupants”, “VS Bank raiders get out of Lviv”. No police presence was observed. This was one of a series of similar protests by young women and men against the bank that the SMM monitored on 17 and 20 August, and daily on 1-4 September.

The Head of the Department of Education of the Storozhynets district (25km south-east of Chernivtsi) told the SMM they have increased the number of hours dedicated to the subject “protection of the motherland” this year, from 1.5 to 2 hours per week. In addition, school nurses provide lessons on first aid in emergency situations for pupils from grades 1-11 and their teachers. The interlocutor emphasized that the purpose was “to educate patriots”.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk 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 the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.

Denied access:

  • In “DPR”-controlled Naberezhne (32km north-east of Mariupol), ten “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to proceed. They said the movement of the SMM was not cleared by the “DPR”, and took photos of the number-plates of the SMM vehicles.
  • At a “DPR” checkpoint 3.5km east of Kominternove (20km north-east of Mariupol), “DPR” members denied the SMM passage, saying that they did not get clearance from their superior for the SMM to pass.

Delay:

  • At a “DPR” checkpoint 5km south of Donetsk, an armed “DPR” member stopped the SMM for ten minutes and allowed the SMM to proceed after he received a phone call ostensibly from his supervisor.
  • At a “DPR” checkpoint south of Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk) “DPR” members inspected the SMM vehicle trunks. A female “DPR” member took her picture with an assault rifle in front of one of the OSCE vehicles without the SMM’s permission. The delay lasted six minutes.
  • At a “LPR”-controlled checkpoint in Irmino (54km west of Luhansk) the SMM waited one hour for an escort by “LPR” members to Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk).

[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”.