Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 7 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 ceasefire violations, almost exclusively at or around Donetsk airport and none in the Luhansk region.

The SMM observed an overall calm situation in the Donetsk region, where it recorded 24 ceasefire violations – all but one whilst positioned 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). Between 08:28 and 12:54hrs from the observation point, the SMM heard a total of 28 undetermined explosions at distances ranging between 5 and 10km west-north-west and west-south-west of its position[1]. Subsequently, both Russian Federation Armed Forces and Ukrainian Armed Forces officers at the JCCC observation point identified some of the 28 explosions as controlled detonations of unexploded ordnance (UXO).

In government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard approximately ten single rounds of small-arms fire and two bursts of heavy machine gun (HMG) approximately 3km north-east of its position. Russian Federation Armed Forces officers and “DPR” members at the JCCC office in “DPR”-controlled Telmanove (50km north-east of Mariupol) told the SMM that armed “DPR” members had conducted firearm exercises during the day.

In “DPR”-controlled Kuibyshivskyi district in Donetsk city (5km west-north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM met with deputy “head” of the “district administration” who told the SMM that there were currently around 80,000 residents – compared to 120,000 before the conflict – and around 100 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the district. The interlocutor added that three out of 17 schools and six out of 20 kindergartens in the district had not been working because they had been damaged by shelling in February this year and located too close to the contact line.

In the Luhansk region, the SMM observed an overall calm situation and recorded no ceasefire violations.

The SMM went inside a training area in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) for the first time, where the SMM observed six static mortars (PM-43,120mm), 20 main battle tanks (MBTs) (18 T-64 and two T-72), 33 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) (27 BMP-1 and six BMP-2), five anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23-2), ten multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicles (MT-LBs), and 20 military trucks (Ural).

In “LPR”-controlled Novokyivka (26km east of Luhansk), the SMM spoke with four residents (three middle-aged and elderly women and one elderly man) who told that tank shelling on 4 September had caused impacts 100m west of the village. Due to security reasons, the SMM could not observe possible impact areas which were mined according to signs.

In government-controlled Shyrokyi (38km north-west of Luhansk), a 50-year old female employee of the village council told the SMM that the population in the village had halved – from 2,300 people before the conflict to 1,100. The interlocutor added that the village had received humanitarian aid four times since the beginning of the conflict – once from the ICRC and three times from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation.

The SMM revisited four Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. At the first area the SMM observed that all previously recorded weapons were present. At the second area, the SMM observed that seven anti-tank guns (100mm MT-12 Rapira) were missing. At the third area, the SMM observed four self-propelled howitzers (122mm 2S1 Gvozdika), four towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm), and eight anti-tank guided missile systems (9K114 Shturm) were still missing – as the SMM has observed since July. The SMM found the fourth area abandoned, as the SMM has observed since July, when five self-propelled howitzers (152mm 2S3 Akatsiya) were first recorded as missing.

The SMM also revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. At the first area the SMM observed all previously recorded weapons were present. At the second area the SMM was denied access by a “DPR” member saying he was not authorized to allow the SMM access.*

The SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In the government-controlled western part of Donetsk region, the SMM saw four flatbed trucks carrying four MBTs (T-72) moving away from the contact line.

In Poltava (149km south-west of Kharkiv), the SMM continued to follow the trial against Kharkiv mayor Hennadii Kernes, on charges of torture, illegal confinement or abduction of a person and threat to murder (Articles 127, 146 and 129 of the Criminal Code)  (see SMM Daily Report 26 August). The SMM observed around 51 activists (30 women, 21 men, aged between 18 and 50) protesting against Mr. Kernes outside the courthouse. Around 50 police officers were present. The judge ordered the continuation of the hearing on 14 September.

On 6 September, the SMM followed up on media reports that the district administration court had authorized anti-Maidan activists to hold a photo exhibition at the Independence square in Odessa, but had banned a pro-Maidan counter-demonstration at the same place and time. The SMM observed around 60 anti-Maidan activists – mostly women aged 60 – and around 40 pro-Maidan activists – mostly men ranging from youth to middle aged – and some 60 police officers forming a circle around the anti-Maidan activists to keep the two groups separated. SMM spoke with the head of one of the pro-Maidan groups, who stated they had agreed with anti-Maidan activists earlier to pray silently and make speeches instead of holding the photo exhibition. The gathering ended peacefully without setting up a photo exhibition.

On 6 September in the vicinity of the Pecherskyi pre-trial detention centre in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a gathering organized by Svoboda party, where approximately 100 men and women (of various ages) were expressing their support for the detained individuals arrested for participation in the clashes in front of the Parliament on 31 August 2015 as a result of which three officers died due to a grenade explosion (see: SMM Spot Report 31 August and Daily Report 3 September).The SMM observed that ten police officers and were present and three busses National Guard members (approximately 40 per bus) parked nearby. The gathering passed off without incident.

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

*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:

  • At a “DPR” heavy weapon holding area, a “DPR” member denied the SMM access, saying he was not authorized to allow the SMM access.

Delayed access:

  •  At a “DPR” checkpoint (12km south-west of Donetsk city), armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM and thoroughly inspected the SMM’s vehicles including bags of patrol members and maps. After ten minutes the SMM was allowed to pass. 

 

[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 fulfillment of its mandate”.