Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 16 February 2015
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. The SMM observed that the ceasefire has largely held in most areas with the exception of Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) and Horlivka (44km north-west of Donetsk).
At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) Headquarters (HQ) temporarily relocated to Soledar (77km north of Donetsk, government-controlled) officers from the Ukrainian and Russian Federation Armed Forces were present, while members of “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) were absent. The SMM discussed with the JCCC the access for the SMM to Debaltseve as well as the JCCC’s role in the implementation of the ceasefire and weapons withdrawal plan.
At 10:42hrs, whilst on the road 12km south of Horlivka the SMM heard constant artillery fire approximately 25km north-east in the direction of Debaltseve. In Horlivka the SMM observed a crater next to a police station which the police said was the result of a shelling on 15 February at around 22:00hrs, which injured two men. Staff at Horlivka City Hospital #2 confirmed this information to the SMM. Whilst in Horlivka, the SMM heard 10-15 incoming and outgoing artillery fire at 11:07hrs, 12:54hrs, 13:27hrs and13:40hrs from the same general area.
While visiting Yenakyyeve (45km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled, 27km south-west of Debaltseve) between 11:05 and 14:00hrs, the SMM heard continuous and constant artillery fired every five to 10 seconds and Multi Launch Rocket System (MLRS) fired every 15 minutes from an east-north-easterly direction, but could not determine whether it was incoming or outgoing.
On the southern outskirts of Virivka (45km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), the SMM saw a surface to air missile system (Strela 10) mounted on a tracked anti-personnel carrier (APC) inside the fortified “DPR” checkpoint at the entrance to the village. It also observed three military-type trucks and two tracked APCs parked in an open field next to the main road south-west of Zhdanivka (36km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled).
After having been denied access to the town by the “DPR” for over four months, the SMM was able to patrol Yasynuvata (15km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled). The local military commander, who also serves as the “mayor”, said to the SMM that there had been no shelling since the new ceasefire entered into effect.
In Olenivka (22km south-west of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) the SMM observed substantial damages to houses assessed to have been caused by a shelling which locals said took place on 24 January. The local military commander said to the SMM that he is also acting as “mayor” and said that no incidents have occurred since the new ceasefire came into effect.
The SMM on two occasions observed Ukrainian Armed Forces military vehicles moving away from the line of contact. While traveling to Kramatorsk at 44km north-west of Donetsk the SMM observed a Ukrainian Armed Forces military convoy – comprised of seven armoured personnel carriers (BMP) and five Ural trucks including one with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU23) - driving west. Near a gas station at the Artemivsk/Soledar junction the SMM saw three Ukrainian Armed Forces T64 tanks moving on the M03 road from the direction of Debaltseve towards Sloviansk (95 km north-west of Donetsk, government-controlled).
The Ukrainian Armed Forces deputy commander of a checkpoint near Maiorsk (44km north-north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled) said to the SMM that the security situation was relatively quiet since the entry into force of the ceasefire. He said that a nearby position 300 meters to their south-west sustained small arms fire on 15 February at around 11:00hrs and that light machine gun fire had been heard on 16 February at around 10:00hrs. He also said that the checkpoint personnel had heard Grad shelling in and around Debaltseve on 16 February from 05:00 to 05:40hrs.
The commander of a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint located 66km north-north-east of Donetsk said to the SMM that they recorded heavy shelling of Myronivskyi (65km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled), Luhanskie (61km north-east of Donetsk, government-controlled) and Debaltseve. While at the checkpoint the SMM heard artillery shelling from the direction of Debaltseve, but could not determine its direction.
While attempting to visit Novoazovsk (122km south-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), on the road north of Shyrokyne (97km south of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), the SMM observed two tanks (T-72) with approximately 30 “DPR” military personnel one of which pointed a rocket propelled grenade at the SMM patrol vehicle. They inquired about the intentions of the SMM prior to letting the patrol pursue to the following checkpoint where it received a “DPR” police escort which accompanied it to a “DPR” checkpoint six kilometres west of Novoazovsk. At this checkpoint the SMM patrol members were required to provide their ID cards and allow the GPS units to be inspected. After two hours of waiting the SMM was denied passage and ordered to turn around. After crossing the checkpoint in Vynohradne (97 south of Donetsk, government-controlled) the SMM observed four APCs (BTR) and two tanks (T-62) stationary near the checkpoint. At 10:00hrs, at around 60 meters from the entrance to Shyrokyne, the SMM witnessed a strong explosion at 90 meters to its west within the town followed by two further shelling impacts 150 meters further west and immediately left the scene. At the first Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint the soldiers informed the SMM that their position in Shyrokyne had been hit.
Between 10:10 and 10:30hrs, while in Hrechyshkyne (72km north-west of Luhansk, government-controlled), the SMM heard five or six rounds of artillery from approximately ten kilometres south of its location but could not ascertain if the shelling was outgoing or incoming.
At approximately 11:00hrs, whilst travelling through Kapitanove (72km north-west of Luhansk, government-controlled), the SMM observed two stationary Grad Multi Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). At 11:55hrs, at the northern exit from Kapitanove, the SMM observed one military truck heading south which was carrying crates for Grad ammunition.
The SMM visited the government-controlled towns of Novoaidar (57km north of Luhansk), Oleksiivka (60km north of Luhansk), Dmytrivka (50km north of Luhansk), Raihorodka (38km north-west of Luhansk) and Bakhmutivka (40km north-west of Luhansk). Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers at the checkpoints around these towns told the SMM that the situation was calm since the ceasefire came into effect. At the Raihorodka checkpoint, Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers requested the SMM patrol members to present their national passports and searched the vehicle before letting them proceed.
The SMM visited the “Lugansk People’s Republic”(“LPR”)-controlled villages of Oleksandrivsk (11km west of Luhansk), Sabivka (16km west of Luhansk), Rodakove (27km west of Luhansk), Zymohiria (33km west of Luhansk) and Frunze (45km west of Luhansk), where it observed that repair works were being carried out by the “LPR” to fix rooftops and broken windows. The local residents said the situation had been calm since the new ceasefire entered into force.
The deputy head of the department of social protection in Chuhuiv (35km south-east of Kharkiv) said to the SMM that the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) continued to increase with recent arrivals from Popasna (80km west of Luhansk, government-controlled), Debaltseve and Horlivka and stressed that the administration lacked supplies and accommodations to support them.
State Security Service (SBU) officers deployed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Andronivka (156km east of Dnepropetrovsk) said to the SMM that the number of IDPs from the Donetsk region passing through the checkpoint had significantly decreased since the ceasefire came into effect. While at the checkpoint, the SMM observed military traffic moving towards Donetsk, including four to five military fuel trucks, two buses with uniformed personnel, another bus with personnel in camouflage, one soft skin personnel carrier, four military trucks and three empty trailer trucks. Additionally, two MLRSs, two military trucks and two fuel trucks were coming from the direction of Donetsk.
The representative of the Dnepropetrovsk Hunters’ Association told the SMM that in support of the local authorities 720 of its members are currently guarding some 400 railroad bridges throughout the Dnepropetrovsk Region and monitoring the movement of military equipment on these railroad lines, especially on the Dnepropetrovsk-Donetsk boundary.
At the Kherson State University the SMM observed the placing of a memorial plaque to the leader of the Kherson Maidan movement and founder of the volunteer battalion Kherson, who died while fighting in the east. Around 300 men and women participated. Approximately 30 Kherson battalion members as well as police representatives standing in formation were present at the event which ended peacefully.
The SMM monitored a protest in front of the Odessa regional prosecutor’s office attended by around 90 activists, men and women, of the self-defence groups Council of Public Security and Narodna Varta, as well as the non-governmental organization Automaidan, against the detention of an Automaidan leader for alleged assault on the acting director of the “Krug TV” television station. Some 200 police were present at the event which ended peacefully. The SMM later monitored the court hearing where the Automaidan leader was released on bail. Some 130 activists, men and women, were present. Around 150 police officers monitored the event which ended peacefully.
At the Higher Specialised Court of Civil and Criminal Cases in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a protest organized by the Association of Anti-raider Entrepreneurs and comprised of 50 young men demanding a thorough lustration of judges. The police were not present and the event ended peacefully.
The SMM continued monitoring the situation in Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.