Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 29 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 observed military equipment and vehicles in Donetsk region.
In “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Yasynuvata (21km north of Donetsk) the SMM observed and assessed damage sustained by shelling which according to local residents took place during the night between 28 and 29 January. The SMM saw damaged buildings including a school, a nursery school, a manufacturing plant and a heating station, where one employee was killed, according to the chief of the station. The SMM could not verify this information. The SMM analysed five craters and assessed that one mortar and four artillery rounds had been fired from a north-western direction.
The SMM observed military equipment and vehicles at different locations in the Donetsk region. On the outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (15km east of Donetsk), the SMM saw a column of seven unmarked armoured personnel carriers heading west towards Donetsk city, with one unmarked and covered military-style Ural truck. The SMM saw east of “DPR”-controlled Zhugres (30km east of Donetsk) a stationary, self-propelled Howitzer (122 mm). Two hours later, the SMM observed what it assumed was the same Howitzer five kilometres further east, now loaded on a flatbed trailer moving west towards Donetsk city. The SMM observed three stationary civilian buses full of men in military uniforms – some with assault rifles – in “DPR”-controlled Zhugres (30km east of Donetsk). The SMM could not see insignia on the uniforms. The buses were facing east. The SMM observed 11 tanks and one large artillery piece near “DPR”-controlled Ternove (163km north-east of Donetsk).
The SMM saw two armoured personnel carriers stationary on the side of the road two kilometres west of Stepanivka (70km south-east of Donetsk). The SMM believes that they were protecting a crew repairing high voltage power lines running across the border to the Russian Federation and observed that the crew’s commercial truck bore Russian license plates (black plates with white letters). North of “DPR”-controlled Marynivka (80km south-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed another crew repairing power lines stretching across the border to the Russian Federation, also with a vehicle that bore Russian plates.
The SMM spoke over the phone with a representative of the city administration in government-controlled Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) who said that on 29 January several buses would transport people who wish to be evacuated out of the city to government-controlled Svyatohirsk (77km north-east of Donetsk) due to the ongoing shelling. According to him, organized evacuations were also planned from Mirovnivka (62km north-east of Donetsk) and Svitlodarsk (55km north-east of Donetsk), both government-controlled. The SMM observed five buses which were marked with signs “children” on the road leading to government-controlled Artemivsk (66km north of Donetsk). The SMM learned from the bus passengers that the Vuhlehirsk (48km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled) thermal power plant station was evacuating the wives and children of company personnel from Svitlodarsk. The SMM learned that the evacuees are being taken to Kharkiv region, where the company owns recreation camps.
The SMM visited government-controlled Novotroitske (32km south of Donetsk), where damage to houses was caused reportedly due to shelling on 26 January. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint the commander told the SMM that from the evening of 28 January there had been incoming artillery fire on the west and south-east sides of Novotroitske. The mayor of Novotroitske confirmed to the SMM that the village had suffered shelling in the evening hours on 28 January. The SMM analysed three craters and determined that they were caused by impacting Grad rockets fired from a direction north-east of Novotroitske. While in Novotroitske the SMM heard outgoing Grad rocket fire from a south-western direction and return artillery fire from a north-easterly direction six to eight kilometres from where the SMM was located.
At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in the vicinity of government-controlled Starchenkove (100km south-west of Donetsk) the checkpoint personnel denied passage to the SMM. The SMM personnel were ordered out of their vehicles, which were searched thoroughly. The checkpoint commander arrived 25 minutes later saying that he could allow passage only if ordered by his superior. The SMM returned to base.
The SMM monitored the international border crossing point between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, at “DPR”-controlled Marynivka (80km south-east of Donetsk). The SMM talked with a total of 15 travellers leaving in their vehicles towards the Russian Federation. The travellers were from Donetsk city and “LPR”-controlled Krasny Luch (119km north-east of Donetsk). All except one traveller said they were going to the Russian Federation to visit family and friends, and to re-stock on essentials with no intention to stay there permanently. The SMM counted 37 vehicles waiting to leave the “DPR” area and drivers said the average waiting time was around 90 minutes.
The Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in government-controlled Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) and the Russian Major-General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the JCCC, currently in Soledar, contacted the SMM by phone to inform about heavy shelling in Vuhlehirsk. The Ukrainian Major-General reaffirmed his commitment to stay at the JCCC headquarters in Debaltseve.
According to information from the JCCC duty room located in Luhansk city there were 35 ceasefire violations recorded in the area of responsibility in the 24hrs preceding 08:00hrs on 28 January.
At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the entrance to government-controlled Myrna Dolyna (75km west of Luhansk), the SMM was denied access to the village. Although the SMM explained the purpose of its visit, the commander in charge did not allow the SMM to pass. While at the checkpoint, the SMM heard what appeared to be outgoing artillery fire lasting for one minute, from approximately seven kilometres away in a south-western direction.
The “commander” of the “humanitarian battalion” of the so-called “Ghost brigade” in “LPR”-controlled Alchevsk (44km west of Luhansk) told the SMM that people left Debaltseve to Alchevsk due to intensified shelling in recent days. He said that there was sufficient supply to provide meals for the next month, but he was unsure how the “brigade” would replenish its supplies as no goods would come from territory controlled by the Ukrainian Government. He was concerned that importing food and medical supplies from the Russian Federation would cost more due to customs taxes and thus increase prices in the town and make them unaffordable for many people. He said people in the town are worried about food shortages. The SMM saw the “humanitarian centre” where meals were being distributed to approximately 50 persons. Mainly elderly people, but also some children were waiting for food.
The SMM observed a gathering of around 250 people (both men and women equal, mainly elderly people) in front of the village council building of Dynivtsi (20km east of Chernivtsi), with the majority of Moldovan inhabitants. The protesters asked that no one from the village be mobilized and demanded information on possible consequences in case one does not respond to a mobilization order. According to the villagers, horrible scenes from the conflict zone are broadcasted on Ukrainian National TV, which increases fears of war. Two police officers from Novoselytsya (30km south-east of Chernivsti) were observing the gathering from a distance.
The SMM monitored a session of the Lviv city council where the head of the local branch of the Svoboda party requested that the Russian Federation General Consulate in the city be closed. Another councillor appealed to the Ukrainian President and the Parliament to impose martial law in the regions of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.
The situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv was calm.