Spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), 7 September 2014: The Situation at Donetsk International Airport and Shchastya (Luhansk region)
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM saw evidence of an exchange of fire close to the area of Donetsk International Airport, and in Shchastya, 20 km north of Luhansk.
A local resident, who lives between two-and-a-half and three kilometres from Donetsk International Airport, called the SMM at 08:25hrs saying that he heard shooting taking place from the direction of the airport and Spartak village. The shooting, according to the source, started at around 08:10hrs and was sporadic, that is, one to two shots at a time.
At 10:00hrs the SMM went on patrol, together with police escort provided by the ‘Donetsk Peoples’ Republic’ (‘DPR’), to verify this account. At the ‘DPR’-manned checkpoint on the Putylivskiy Bridge, which is close to the site of the airport, the SMM could hear mortars being fired from the airport area. The ‘DPR’ denied the SMM further access due to security reasons.
The SMM and ‘DPR’ accessed the roof of an abandoned apartment building in the neighbourhood of the checkpoint. From there, the SMM observed a number of mortars being fired and impacts. Smoke was seen rising between some trees 800 metres away, close to the village of Spartak, which is located north-east of the airport. According to the ‘DPR’, they hold the village. The SMM visited Spartak and observed numerous impacts from shelling which had allegedly taken place earlier in the day. Two small family houses were also observed still burning after impacts coming undoubtedly from the shelling. The SMM was informed that the houses were abandoned, and that the shelling had not caused any casualties in the village.
Altogether, between 10:15hrs and 12:30hrs (at which point the SMM left to return to the office), the SMM heard in all 15–20 mortars being fired, observed the impacts of a few of these, and heard small arms fire also coming from the airport.
In Shchastya (20 km north of Luhansk) an exchange of fire was also witnessed by the SMM. At 13:37hrs, fighters affiliated to the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (‘LPR’) fired on Ukrainian troops, which led to a response by the Ukrainian armed forces. Both sides exchanged small arms, rocket-propelled grenade, and artillery fire. The incident had ended by 14:50hrs. Medical staff working at the scene informed the SMM that one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in the chest. The Ukrainian commando confirmed this to the SMM, and presumed that one fighter affiliated to ‘LPR’ was killed.