Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 14 December 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum and the work of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). The SMM followed up on reports concerning the closure of air traffic at Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk international airports.
On 13 December, the SMM met the commander of the “Humanitarian Battalion” of the so-called “Ghost” brigade in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Alchevsk (44km West of Luhansk) (see Daily Report 7 December). The interlocutor informed the SMM that they were operating seven soup kitchens in Alchevsk and its vicinity, as well as visiting some private accommodations where elderly or ill people resided. To deliver humanitarian aid - including medicines to local hospitals- the “Humanitarian Battalion” was reportedly relying on local companies, private donors and the association “Russian Community”.
On 13 December, the SMM visited “LPR”-controlled Kirovsk (58 km West of Luhansk) and spoke to a number of local residents, who told the SMM that between 3 November and 9 December six residents of Kirovsk had died and that at least ten civilians had been wounded as a result of frequent shelling. In Kirovsk, the SMM observed significant damage to and partial destruction of a number of civilian houses.
On 13 December, in Donetsk city, the SMM met officers of the General Staffs of Ukraine and the Russian Federation who had recently established a co-ordination group in Donetsk as part of the JCCC (see Daily Report 4 December). Ukrainian and Russian colonels, each leading a team of three, and one “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) member were present. The colonels explained that their main role was to co-ordinate the activities of all JCCC units in their sector and to report to the headquarters (HQ) in Debaltseve. The Russian colonel said that efforts by both sides had led to an improved situation in and around Donetsk airport, and that, on 12 December, an agreement had been reached between “DPR” and Ukrainian commanders on troop rotation (see Daily Report 12 December).
On 13 and 14 December, the SMM visited the JCCC HQ in government-controlled Debaltseve (55km North-East of Donetsk), where four officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, four officers of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, and members of the “DPR” and “LPR” were present. The SMM was given a copy of a letter dated 9 December, signed by both the Ukrainian and Russian Generals, asking the “LPR” and “DPR” about their readiness to comply with the Minsk Memorandum as part of a 9 December ceasefire. The SMM was shown a letter from the “LPR” dated 10 December, signed by a “deputy head of the People’s Council”, saying that the “LPR” was prepared to start withdrawing large calibre weapons at 09:00hrs on 11 December; and another letter dated 11 December from a member of the “DPR” stating that the “DPR” had already begun to withdraw large calibre weaponry. The Russian chief of staff said that the “LPR” had started to withdraw heavy weapons between Trokhizbenka (40km North-West of Luhansk) and Novokyivka (25km East of Luhansk), and the “DPR” between Pyshevyk (84km South of Donetsk) and Hranitne (63km South-East of Donetsk).
On 14 December, the SMM conducted a patrol to “DPR”-controlled Shirokyne (120km South of Donetsk), aimed at proceeding further east towards Novoazovsk (122km South of Donetsk). This was the sixth attempt by the SMM in the past eight days to reach Novoazovsk. After moving through the village of Shirokyne and stopping at a “DPR” checkpoint, the SMM was told by its personnel that it was not allowed to proceed further. No specific reason was given.
In Kharkiv, the SMM observed around 100 people, of mixed gender and age, gathering on Liberty square. Members of the volunteer “Azov” battalion, the “Right Sector” political party and the NGO “Civil Self-Defense” were also present. Those gathered on the square were complaining against the perceived attempts by the local authorities to prevent the participation of civil society in the city council’s work. Activists announced that they would organize a rally in front of the council building on 24 December to demand broader inclusion of civil society in the work of the city authorities. The SMM observed around 100 police officers near the scene. The event ended peacefully.
The SMM followed up on media reports that Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia had been closed to air traffic as of 13 December. Ukrainian authorities in Kharkiv confirmed to the SMM that the city’s international airport was closed for security reasons until further notice and that all international and domestic flights had been cancelled.
On 13 December, the SMM visited Dnipropetrovsk Airport, where staff said that all flights had been cancelled, but did not give further explanations. The staff member at the information desk said that this measure would remain in place until Monday morning. The SMM did not observe any changes in security measures at the airport.
On 12 December, in Dnipropetrovsk, the SMM met with representatives of the Anti-Crisis Media Centre (ACMC), an NGO with offices in Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kyiv, and Kharkiv. They said that on 16 December in Novomoskovsk (25km North-East of Dnipropetrovsk) the ACMC was organizing the first of several roundtable discussions on the topic of decentralisation. The mayor of Novomoskovsk, regional authorities, NGOs, and social activists are expected to take part.
On 11 December, in Mykolaiv (70km North-West of Kherson), the SMM met with members of the Mykolaiv Regional Council and military authorities. According to the deputy chief enlistment officer of the Mykolaiv Region, the fourth wave of mobilisation was expected to begin in January 2015.
On 13 December, the SMM monitored a demonstration organized by Euromaidan activists in front of Odessa City Hall. Approximately 60 protesters, of mixed gender and age, participated in the protest, organized against perceived widespread and unregulated construction along the coast and in the historic centre of Odessa. About 20 police officers secured the area. The protest was peaceful.
In Odessa, the SMM monitored a demonstration on Kulikovo Pole square, organized by anti- Maidan activists, which gathered around 50 people, mainly elderly men and women. Some 15 police officers were visible during the event. The gathering passed off peacefully.
In Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv the situation remained calm.
On 14 December, the SMM visited the border crossing point (BCP) in Porubne (40km South of Chernivtsi) on the Ukrainian-Romanian border. The SMM observed 12 trucks lining up on the Ukrainian side. The border guards’ shift commander said that traffic had reduced over the last few weeks and that it would decrease further during the holiday season. The interlocutor described the general situation at the BCP as calm.
On 14 December, the SMM observed a regular gathering of Maidan activists on Maidan Square in Kyiv. The speakers recalled the “Maidan revolution” and expressed their discontent as, in their view, little had changed in the country since then. The event gathered some 100 people, mainly males, of mixed age. No police presence was visible.