Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 6 February 2015
This report is for the 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 the evacuation of civilians from heavily shelled Debaltseve.
On 6 February the SMM met officers of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and the acting Chief of Staff (CoS) of the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters, temporarily relocated from government-controlled Debaltseve to government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk). According to officers of the Russian Federation and the acting CoS of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the JCCC headquarters were actively supporting the evacuation of civilians from Debaltseve by organizing a temporary local ceasefire: shelling of the city was ceasing and municipal authorities and volunteer organizations were attempting to ensure that all remaining inhabitants were aware of the evacuation initiative.
The acting Ukrainian CoS told the SMM that the evacuation of civilians from Debaltseve had started as planned in the morning that day. According to him a column of approximately 30 vehicles (25 buses and some accompanying cars) had been brought in from government-controlled Artemivsk (66km north of Donetsk). He said that the provision of vehicles to transport civilians out of the city was organized by the regional governor, the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergency Situations and several volunteer organizations. According to the interlocutor another column of 24 vehicles (22 buses and two cars) had approached Debaltseve from the direction of “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Vuhlehirsk (47km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM was informed by representatives of the JCCC that the “emergency service department” of the “DPR” was in charge of organizing vehicles for the transport of civilians. They were told that the column organized from government-controlled territory was headed by officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces to the JCCC and returned to Artemivsk. The column bound for “DPR”-controlled territory was headed by Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces staff from the JCCC office in Donetsk city, and headed to “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (35km north-east of Donetsk), “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km east of Donetsk) and to Donetsk city.
The SMM then observed the evacuation of civilians from heavily shelled government-controlled Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM patrols were dispatched to Debaltseve after all sides had agreed to an eight-hour temporary truce. They observed that several hundred civilians, including at least 100 children, were able to leave Debaltseve during the truce. The SMM followed approximately 50 buses coming from Donetsk and Kramatorsk, which, after entering Debaltseve, collected civilians at assembly points in the city. Those who wanted to leave the city were given the choice between two destinations. The buses that were bound for areas within “DPR” had about 40 people on board, whereas about 766 people were leaving to government-controlled territory, according to figures provided by the JCCC.
While in Debaltseve, the SMM observed significant damage to civilian infrastructure and residences caused by earlier artillery strikes. In addition, constant outgoing shelling was observed during the evacuation. The Russian Major-General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the JCCC and the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, were both present at the evacuation site.
On patrol to the “DPR”-controlled Uspenka border crossing point (BCP) between Ukraine and the Russian Federation (73km south-east of Donetsk) on 6 February, the SMM observed several military convoys: four unmarked multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicles and one unmarked military truck (Kamaz) in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km east of Donetsk) heading west towards Donetsk city; three unmarked covered military trucks (Kamaz) in “DPR”-controlled Khartsisk (25km east of Donetsk) heading west towards Donetsk city; seven unmarked covered military trucks (Kamaz and Ural) in the vicinity of “DPR”-controlled Zugres (35km east of Donetsk), moving west towards Donetsk city; 29 unmarked military trucks (Kamaz and Ural) on the “DPR”- controlled T0517 highway (54km east of Donetsk), moving north. Two of the trucks were open and carried green wooden cases, two meters in length, consistent with boxes used to transport Grad/BM-21 munition. The SMM could not confirm if the boxes were loaded.
The SMM stopped approximately 15km north of government-controlled Shchastia (23km north of Luhansk,) on the main road and heard outgoing shelling east of its position starting at around 11:38hrs for approximately five minutes.
On 5 February at the JCCC office in government-controlled Starobilsk (90km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM met the Russian Major-General and the Ukrainian Major-General. The interlocutors stated that the JCCC was still not fully operational and joint patrols in their area of responsibility are not possible for security reasons.
On 6 February, the SMM followed up on media reports about an explosion and placement of an explosive device at two different locations in Odessa. At 09:30hrs, the SMM visited the site of a reported explosion at a “PrivatBank” branch on Zhukova Street and observed windows shattered on two floors of the bank and the adjacent building. The SMM met with the Odessa regional Ministry of Interior Chief of Staff, who stated that the incident was being investigated. According to the interlocutor, the Ministry of Interior rated the explosive strength as equivalent to 200-400g of TNT (Trinitrotoluene). The interlocutor told the SMM that there were no casualties and no perpetrators had been identified as of that time. The SMM met the head of the public relations unit of the Odessa regional Ministry of Interior to confirm information from media about a suspicious device discovered next to the branch office of “PrivatBank” on Dnipropetrovska Road in Odessa. The interlocutor confirmed that on 6 February, police arrived at the spot at approximately 08:00hrs after receiving information from residents about a suspicious device. Police observed a metal can and a nine-volt battery with a small circuit board connected to the can with wires. The interlocutor stated that the device was most probably designed for remote control activation. The interlocutor said that according to Ministry of Interior demolition specialists the explosive device was homemade.
The situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv was calm.