Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 23 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 Minsk Memorandum and the work of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). The SMM observed a destroyed railway bridge in Mariupol, apparently caused by an explosive device.
The SMM observed a destroyed railway bridge on the northern outskirts of government-controlled Mariupol (113km south of Donetsk). Local police and members of the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) were on the scene.
In government-controlled Volnovakha (47km south-west of Donetsk), the Ukrainian military officer in charge of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) office there told the SMM that they had recently received new instructions jointly approved by the General Staffs of Ukraine (GSU) and the Russian Federation (GSRF). When asked the nature of the instructions, the SMM was told it should contact the JCCC headquarters in government-controlled Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk). Both Ukrainian and Russian Federation officers stated that there was a possibility of joint patrolling commencing on 28 December.
At the JCCC headquarters in Debaltseve, the SMM met GSU and GSRF officers, and members of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). GSU Major-General Razmaznin and GSRF Major-General Vyaznikov were present. Both of them said that an agreement had been reached concerning the rotation of Ukrainian Army personnel at Donetsk Airport. They also said that a ceasefire-related meeting would take place in Luhansk on 24 December, to which they invited the SMM.
Maj.-Gen. Razmaznin said joint JCCC patrolling would only occur when there was a complete cessation of violence, and only with the presence of the SMM. Major-General Vyaznikov said that the Russians would not take part in joint patrols, although he added that if the Ukrainian side wanted Russian participation, there should be a formal invitation. He said the Ukrainians and the “DPR” and “LPR” should carry out joint patrols as they were, according to him, the key parties to the conflict. Major-General Razmaznin said he would not accept newly-arrived GSRF officers on joint patrols if such patrols were to materialise. He added that the next Trilateral Contact Group meeting would be held in Minsk on 24 and 26 December, at which point he hoped concrete solutions could be found to various issues, including JCCC monitoring.
Log books agreed by all sides at the JCCC headquarters showed that there had been 28 alleged incidents, including 15 involving heavy weapons, in the 24 hours preceding 10:00hrs on 23 December. These incidents were not confirmed by the JCCC or the SMM. Officers at the JCCC said unspecified areas around Mariupol; Pisky (12km north-west of Donetsk) and Hranitne (62km south of Donetsk) had been particularly affected. They reported no casualties.
The head of the Social Services Department in government-controlled Druzhkivka (70km north of Donetsk) told the SMM that people living in the town’s suburbs and outlying villages were unable to receive social welfare or pensions. She explained that although such areas were in fact under government control, they had not been specified as government-controlled areas in Cabinet Decree No. 1085/R of 7 November. In line with the decree, people resident in areas not under government control are ineligible for State support.
JCCC members in government-controlled Starobilsk (90km north of Luhansk) told the SMM by phone that the Russian Federation JCCC Starobilsk contingent`s rotation had been fully completed on 15 December. The Ukrainian contingent, they said, would be rotated between 25 and 28 December.
The SMM observed a convoy of ten civilian trucks, with some towing wheeled artillery pieces, in government-controlled Severodonetsk (90km north-west of Luhansk), moving north away from the line of contact. It subsequently heard what it assessed to have been three more convoys – moving north – which included what could be discerened as the sound of armoured vehicles.
On the outskirts of Vrubivka (74km north-ewast of Luhansk), Ukrainian soldiers stopped the SMM at a checkpoint. They searched the SMM vehicles, asked for identification, and after 40 minutes ordered the SMM back. No explanation was given.
The SMM attended a press conference convened by a newly-established, 140-member Lviv-based NGO – East and West Together – at which five members outlined the organization’s objectives. They said the organization, composed entirely of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the east of the country, wanted to bring together IDPs from the east and provide them with a voice, as, unlike Crimean Tatars, they currently have no leadership. They hoped specifically to address integration problems.
Sources both at the Regional Administration and the pre-trial detention centre in Kharkiv told the SMM that all but five of 41 male inmates – who had been transferred from the Donetsk region to Kharkiv on 20 December – had been sent to detention centres in various locations throughout the country on 23 December.
A crowd of between 3,000 and 5,000 people demonstrated outside the Parliament in Kyiv¸ with some participants telling the SMM that they were upset with proposed budget cuts to social spending.
The situation remained calm in Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Odesa, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk.