Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 1 February 2015
This report is for the media and public
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum. The Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side within the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), told the SMM that the JCCC Headquarters (HQ) in Debaltseve was hit multiple times by Grad rockets on 1 February, resulting in a number of casualties. The Russian Federation Armed Forces staff assigned to the JCCC HQ in Debaltseve remains relocated in Soledar.
On 1 February the SMM spoke over the phone with the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, who stated that the JCCC headquarters (HQ) building in government-controlled Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) was hit multiple times by Grad rockets at approximately 14:00hrs on 1 February. He said that during the attack the Ukrainian Armed Forces chief of staff assigned to the JCCC HQ was wounded in the shoulder and moved to a hospital in Kharkiv. He also said that as the JCCC HQ building is also used for civilian administration purposes, during the attack two civilians were wounded. A third civilian was wounded outside the building. The SMM was unable to independently verify this information. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation Armed Forces staff assigned to JCCC HQ in Debaltseve remain relocated in Soledar.
On 1 February, as it was traveling southbound along route M03/E40 from Kramatorsk towards Debaltseve, the SMM observed three buses and between 40 to 50 private vehicles moving northbound from the direction of Debaltseve and Svitlodarsk (58km north-north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled). At two Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints along this route, soldiers told the SMM that most civilian evacuees from Debaltseve and Svitlodarsk had left during the previous evening. At a checkpoint located in Luhanske (8km north of Debaltseve, government-controlled) soldiers advised the SMM not to proceed further due to fighting ahead in and around Debaltseve and Vuhlehirsk (49km north-east of Donetsk).
On 1 February, whilst traveling to Shakhtarsk (50km east of Donetsk, “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”-controlled), the SMM observed in Makiivka (10km east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) two BMP-1 armoured personnel carriers towed by trucks with “DK” number plates, heading towards Donetsk city. The “deputy minister” of the “DPR Ministry of Defence” told the SMM that these plates are issued by their “ministry”. In Makiivka the SMM also observed 11 military trucks, some with DK registration plates and some unmarked, accompanied by one civilian truck with a DK registration plate, heading west towards Donetsk city, as well as five parked flatbed trucks, two of them loaded with armoured personnel carriers, unknown type. Additionally, in Makiivka, the SMM observed eight military trucks with DK registration plates, covered platform, moving east. The SMM then observed seven BMP-1 armoured personnel carriers at a location 6km west of Shakhtarsk, moving west; 14 trucks with fuel tanks on the platforms, some marked with DK number plates, some unmarked, at a location 7km west of Shakhtarsk; one armoured tracked reconnaissance vehicle of unknown type (the figures 902 were seen on the side of the vehicle) at the junction of roads H21 and T0517 (55km east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), moving west.
On 31 January the SMM observed the railway overfly at Kuznetsivka (close to Rozivka, 95km south-west of Donetsk,), in the Zaporizhzhia region, which had been damaged by the blast on 20 January (see SMM Daily Report 21 January). The SMM could confirm that it is repaired and operational again.
On 1 February the SMM could not reach Malynivka (99km south-west of Donetsk, government-controlled), as the four possible entries to the village near Volodarske were blocked with cement barriers, anti-tank barriers and tires were used in the roadblocks. The purpose of the roadblock is unclear; no signs of military presence in the area were observed.
On 31 January the SMM at around 10:30hrs, at a location 2km south of the village Kuteinikove (45km south-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) saw a convoy composed of 60 vehicles escorted by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation and by the “DPR” police. The SMM also observed 17 fuel trucks in a separate convoy, which caught up with the main convoy, which were allowed to overtake the first convoy and proceeded to an unknown destination. The SMM saw that the convoy was further split into three parts en route to Donetsk. After reaching Makiivka (13km west-north-west of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), the SMM observed the arrival of approximately 30 trucks at a known humanitarian aid warehouse, and saw 11 vehicles being unloaded of what appeared to be foodstuffs and personal hygiene items.
On 31 January, while on a routine patrol in Luhansk city, the SMM observed a vehicle convoy which consisted of 10 trucks accompanied by a “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) “police” escort. The trucks bore large signs denoting the convoy was humanitarian in nature and had been sent from Russia. At 12:20hrs, as part of its patrol, the SMM visited Kindergarten No. 37 in the north of Luhansk city where it saw that two of the trucks seen earlier were being unloaded by members of the local community. The items were moved to a store room in the kindergarten.
On 31 January the SMM heard continual outgoing and incoming exchange of artillery fire on the road from Novoaidar (57km north of Luhansk, government-controlled) to Shchastia (23km north of Luhansk, government-controlled), the sound of which was coming from the direction of Trokhizbenka (40km west of Luhansk, government-controlled). The exchange of fire, which lasted from 09:58hrs to 10:16hrs, consisted of heavy artillery, mortar and Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). Whilst in Raihorodka (38km north-west of Luhansk, “LPR”-controlled) the SMM heard other rounds of incoming and outgoing exchange of artillery fire consisting of heavy artillery, mortar and MLRS. The sounds of the exchange of fire came from Trokhizbenka and lasted from 11:00hrs to 11:30hrs.
On 1 February the SMM stopped on the road at the high point above Shchastia (23km north of Luhansk, government-controlled) where it heard continual outgoing heavy artillery fire from the direction of Trokhizbenka. The SMM then heard continuing incoming heavy artillery fire impacting in the vicinity of the Shchastia power plant or Petrivka (31km north of Luhansk, government-controlled), estimated as approximately 10km south of its position. At 10:58hrs, the SMM heard two rounds of outgoing MLRS (Grad) from the direction of Shchastia.
On 1 February whilst on patrol in Vrubivka (74km west of Luhansk, government-controlled) the SMM heard heavy incoming artillery shelling (unknown calibre) approximately 6km south of the SMM position.
In Kharkiv the SMM followed up on media reports that the Postyshev statue [Ukrainian Bolshevik leader involved in the “great famine” events in the early 1930’s] next to the Metallist cultural center in Komintern district, Kharkiv city, had been toppled. On 1 February the SMM visited the area and observed that only a damaged stand of the statue remained. The SMM spoke to the director of the nearby cultural center who said that the statue had been toppled in the night between 30 and 31 January.
On 31 January the SMM visited a checkpoint near Synelnykove (50km south-east of Dnepropetrovsk) and spoke with the officer in charge from the traffic police unit and the officer in charge from the regional police department. They said that seizures of firearms, ammunition and explosives happen frequently at this checkpoint, in particular from soldiers coming from the “Anti-Terrorism Operation” (“ATO”) conflict zone.
On 28 January the SMM traveled to the Arabat Spit (215km south-east of Kherson) located on the administrative boundary line (ABL) between mainland Ukraine and Crimea. A Ukrainian border guard representative assessed the situation as stable but tense, and said that no UAVs have been observed in recent days. He said that some helicopters have been heard in the area.
On 31 January in Odessa, the SMM monitored another court hearing concerning the 2 May clashes in Odessa city centre. Inside the main hall were about 50 people, including lawyers, defendants under house arrest, relatives of the defendants, Kulykove Pole activists on the one side and representatives of the “Pravyy Sektor” (Right Sector) and Svoboda party and pro-Maidan activists on the other side. Approximately 30 police officers were inside the court building, while another 20 police officers were present in front of the building. Three activists from Right Sector, three Kulykove Pole activists and two journalists were allowed in the courtroom by the judges. No confrontations took place between the activists. After the hearing was over, the police formed a corridor for Kulykove Pole activists, defendants and their families to leave the courthouse safely. No incidents were reported. The next hearing is scheduled for 2 February.
In Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv the situation remained calm.