Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 11 January 2015
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 witnessed multiple instances of both incoming and outgoing shelling in areas of Donetsk city adjacent to the airport. The JCCC recorded a marked increase in reported ceasefire violations.
On 10 January, the SMM monitored the security situation in Donetsk city and areas surrounding Donetsk airport. Between 16:57 hrs and 18:06 hrs, the SMM heard and directly observed multiple instances of both incoming and outgoing shelling (from unknown locations) consistent with heavy mortars, BM-21 multiple rocket launcher systems (Grad) and heavy artillery. While at a location near the airport, the SMM called the headquarters of the JCCC in government-controlled Debaltseve (55 km north-east of Donetsk) and asked the JCCC to try and halt ongoing hostilities in and around the airport. In response, the duty officer at the headquarters of the JCCC contacted the field commanders of both the Ukrainian armed forces and the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) and asked them to stop the shelling. Despite the intervention of the JCCC, the SMM continued to observe numerous incoming and outgoing Grad rockets, mortars and artillery. No improvement in the situation was noted and the SMM left the area.
At the headquarters of the JCCC in Debaltseve, the Ukrainian Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side, and the Russian Federation Army Chief of Staff indicated that in the 48 hours up to 08:00 hrs on 11 January there was a marked increase in reported ceasefire violations. During the period from 08.00 hrs on 9 January to 08.00 hrs on 10 January, a total of 72 ceasefire violations were noted (artillery and mortar shelling, small arms and light weapons fire and tank fire), of which 39 were recorded at the Donetsk airport. During the 24 hour period from 08.00 hrs on 10 January to 08.00 hrs on 11 January, a total of 111 ceasefire violations were recorded. Thirty-nine incidents were again recorded in the area of Donetsk airport. From 10-11 January, there were eleven reports of incidents in the villages of Olenivka (24 km south-south-west of Donetsk, government-controlled), Slavnoe (28 km south-west of Donetsk, government-controlled) and Marinka (24 km south-west of Donetsk, government-controlled). Fifteen reported incidents occurred in the villages of Krymske (110 km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled) and Trokhizbenka (118 km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled). No other villages were mentioned by JCCC representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian Federation. The Ukrainian Major-General stated that two Ukrainian National Guard soldiers were killed and fifteen wounded in fighting near Stanytsia Luhanska (140 km north-east of Donetsk, controlled by the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (LPR)) on 9 January. The Russian Federation Army Chief of Staff did not comment on this.
Residents in Kominternove (88 km south of Donetsk, located between government-controlled and “DPR”-controlled territories), told the SMM of their concern at having to obtain a pass to travel through government-controlled territory. They reported that they cannot travel through checkpoint #15 in Vinohradne (97 km south of Donetsk, government-controlled) without such a document. The SMM also met residents from Sakhanka, (95 km south-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) who stated that they need to travel to buy food and receive medical care in government-controlled territory, but are prevented from doing so by Ukrainian checkpoint personnel. Residents told the SMM that they do not know how to get these passes. According to them there is no civil authority where people can register to receive the passes. The SMM was unable to establish what type of document this is but will follow up on these reports in the coming days. The owner of a shop in Shyrokyne (97 km south of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) told the SMM that since 27 December the Ukrainian army are thoroughly checking all vehicles, a procedure that can take up to three hours.
On 10 January 2014, in Severodonetsk (75 km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM monitored the handover ceremony of humanitarian aid donated by the Government of Kazakhstan to the Government of Ukraine. This humanitarian aid was delivered by the Ukrainian First Deputy of the Head of the State Department for emergency situations. The Kazakhstan Ambassador in Ukraine stated that the aid was intended for both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, including areas not controlled by the Government. According to the Ambassador, the value of the goods delivered was US $380,000 and the aid provided consisted of cooking oil, sugar, oats and tinned meat. The First Deputy of the Head of the State Department for emergency situations said that commissions for the distribution of humanitarian aid have been set up at all administrative levels (municipal, district and regional level) and that they will identify who will receive the aid. According to him, this aid will be distributed with the support of international organizations, with particular focus on internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable persons including those with no social protection.
On 11 January, the SMM witnessed a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) being fired in a south-south-east direction from an area between the villages of government-controlled Stepove (30 km north of Luhansk) and government-controlled Nyzhnia Vilkhova (33 km north of Luhansk).
The SMM were informed by the Ukrainian Colonel and the Russian Federation Colonel present at the JCCC Sector-A and Sector-S Duty Room in Luhansk that the use of heavy artillery weapons systems in Luhansk city (in the area of Verkhna Verhunka,“LPR”-controlled) resulted in two civilians being hospitalized with injuries. The SMM visited the scene and saw damage to 12 houses, consistent with artillery fire.
The situation in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa and Kherson remained calm.
Forty pupils from Severodonetsk (Luhansk region) are taking part in a ten-day trip to Chernivtsi. The trip follows an appeal by the Governor of Luhansk to other regions to organize such respite trips for young people who have witnessed conflict. The director of the tourism centre in Severodonetsk told the SMM that 250 pupils from Luhansk region have been hosted in Chernivtsi since summer 2014. A vast majority of pupils told the SMM that their education has been disrupted due to the conflict.
The situation in Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv remained calm.