Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 12 November 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, focusing on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, and in particular the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination. The SMM was briefly held at a number of check points.
At 10:30hrs the SMM – following up on media reports that had indicated an explosion in the early hours of the morning – noted some superficial damage to pipes running alongside a small concrete bridge in Kharkiv. No police were present.
The SMM observed people re-entering a building in Kharkiv, which, according to earlier media reports, had received a hoax bomb threat from an individual demanding the restoration of a recently toppled Lenin statute in the city centre. Police were leaving the scene as the SMM arrived.
On 11 November the SMM observed the transfer of four wounded Ukrainian soldiers by the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) to the Ukrainian military in Shchastya (20km north of Luhansk). The soldiers were transported in two ambulances, and were escorted by “LPR” armed personnel and “LPR traffic police”.
At Verkhnya Vilkhova (30km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard shelling coming from the area of Stanytsia Luhanska (25km north-east of Luhansk). In Kolijadivka (46km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard outgoing and incoming artillery fire, including several rounds of Grad, from the south. Local people told the SMM that the shelling was taking place in Shchastya and Stanytsia Luhanska.
On 11 November a member of an irregular armed group affiliated with the “LPR” in Krasnodon (50km south-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that there was ongoing antagonism between the “LPR” in Krasnodon and the “LPR” in Luhansk, resulting in a fire-fight between the two sides and the brief “detention” of Luhansk-based “LPR” personnel.
On 11 November the SMM met with the “LPR deputy minister of interior”, who said the “ministry” had recruited more than 1,500 “police officers” and was in the process of creating a new IT system to handle administrative and criminal cases.
At a location approximately one kilometre south-west of Samsonovskaje-Zapadnaja (20km SE of Luhansk), the SMM observed an “LPR” demining team. One member of the team told the SMM that in the previous two months they had dealt with 10 anti-personnel mines in the area. He also said they had dealt with approximately 200 anti-tank mines at Luhansk airport. The team consists of 100 members, and more are being trained at “a military camp”, according to the interlocutor. Later, accompanied by the “LPR” interlocutor, the SMM observed part of an exploded TOCHKA-I missile, as well as several destroyed buildings, homes, two tanks, two armoured personnel carriers (APC) and other vehicles in the village of Novosevetlovka (15km south-east of Luhansk). The “LPR” interlocutor told the SMM that the tanks and APCs belonged to the Ukrainian military and had been destroyed in fighting in late August.
The SMM was briefly stopped and asked to produce identification by Ukrainian military personnel at a checkpoint (CP) five kilometres west of Mariupol (113km south of Donetsk). The SMM was also stopped at an additional two Ukrainian military CPs close to Maiors’k, (63km south-east of Kramatorsk), and asked for a password. Although unable to produce it, the SMM was allowed to proceed within five minutes. At another CP (44km south-east of Kramatorsk) manned by Ukrainian National Guards, the SMM was stopped for 15 minutes, during which time, the CP commander – dressed in civilian clothing – ordered the SMM out of its vehicle and had the vehicle’s content emptied onto the road.
In Kam’yanka (62km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard five mortar rounds explode approximately two kilometres to the north.
In the villages of Kam`yanka, Novoselivka and Bakhchovyk, (62km, 64km and 55km south of Donetsk, respectively), local leaders and inhabitants informed the SMM of what they described as a desperate humanitarian situation, stressing in particular the lack of medicine, heating supplies, pensions, salaries and public transport. They said the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the regional administrative centre – which would ordinarily provide some services and assistance – was under the control of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”).
The two senior Ukrainian and Russian officers assigned to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in Volnovakha (47km south-west of Donetsk) told the SMM that they were awaiting orders from the JCCC HQ in Debal’tseve (60km north-east of Donetsk) to start patrolling. The SMM examined the separate Ukrainian and Russian logbooks, noting that both had recorded the same incidents in the previous 48 hours, namely artillery and mortar shelling at Hranitne (57km south of Donetsk) at 08:00hrs on both 11 and 12 November from the area of Hryhorivka (6km south-east of Hranitne).
At the JCCC HQ in Debal’tseve (55km north-east of Donetsk), a Russian officer highlighted the lack of armoured vehicles and personal protection equipment; although a Ukrainian officer said the lack of armoured vehicles had already been discussed at a political level and hence would not present a problem.
At the JCCC office in Olenivka (25km south-west of Donetsk), both Ukrainian and Russian officers there raised similar concerns, telling the SMM that patrolling in the area was dependent upon the receipt of such vehicles and equipment. The SMM also visited the JCCC offices in Svitlodars’k, (55km north-east of Donetsk) and in Soledar (77km north of Donetsk).
At a Ukrainian military CP two kilometres south of Maiors’k (45km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard three single sniper rounds, fired at the CP from a location south-east of it.
The SMM accompanied a Dutch recovery team to Hrabove (80km east of Donetsk), the main MH17 Malaysia Ailines crash site. The SMM liaised with the “DPR” to facilitate the visit. The purpose of the visit, which lasted three hours, was to recover human remains.
On 11 November the SMM was stopped at a CP controlled by a Ukrainian volunteer battalion near Sosnivka (144 km south-east of Dnipropetrovsk) and had their vehicles searched by the soldiers, who said they had been ordered to do so by their superiors.
The situation remained calm in Kherson, Odesa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv.