Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 22 February 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. The SMM, based on its monitoring – which was restricted by third parties and by security considerations – noted that fighting continued in and around Donetsk airport and in several other locations in the Donetsk region. Only a few ceasefire violations were noted in the Luhansk region. Two people were killed in a bomb attack in Kharkiv.
In “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Panteleimonivka. (26km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM on 21 February heard the sound of over 100 explosions consistent with incoming and outgoing artillery fire, emanating from some 10 kilometres to the south and south-west. The SMM also heard four bursts of small-arms fire, emanating from five kilometres to the south-west.
Whilst stationary for 50 minutes at a “DPR” checkpoint (12km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard the sound of 27 explosions, emanating from a location to the south-west. In “DPR”-controlled Yasinovata (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM later heard the sound of more explosions.
In “DPR”-controlled Luhanske (21km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM on 21 February heard the sound of 10-15 explosions coming from a northerly direction, approximately 20-30 kilometres away. In government-controlled Kurakhove (38.5km west of Donetsk), the SMM on 21 February heard the sound of approximately 40 explosions over the span of 20 minutes, emanating from a location to the north-east.
In the “DPR”-controlled Petrovskyi district of Donetsk city (13km west-south-west of Donetsk city-centre), the SMM on 21 February observed 12 shelled buildings. Local people told the SMM that the area had been shelled that day, resulting in the death of one woman, whose apartment had sustained a direct artillery hit. The SMM noted approximately 30 impacts in the area, caused by Grad missiles, which the SMM assessed to have been fired from a location to the west-south-west. One of the buildings sustaining damage was a kindergarten. A walled compound with concertina wire – with a tracked infantry vehicle and a military truck parked and men in military fatigues present inside – was also hit. While at the scene, the SMM heard the sound of 15 explosions coming from a location approximately 20 kilometres to the north.
At a “DPR” checkpoint in Kievskyi district in Donetsk city, the SMM on 22 February heard the sound of incoming and outgoing shelling and small-arms fire, assessed by the SMM to have emanated from the Donetsk airport, approximately two kilometres to the north. A “DPR” area commander at the checkpoint threatened to kill the SMM monitors. On the same day, an SMM Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attempting to monitor compliance with the Minsk Package in the environs of the Donetsk airport was consistently jammed.
On 21 February the SMM monitored and facilitated an ICRC humanitarian convoy to Debaltseve (57km north-east of Donetsk), which was escorted by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). En route, in the vicinity of Chornukhyne, seven kilometres west of Debaltseve, the SMM heard the sound of distant artillery fire (six rounds) from a location 20-30 kilometres to the north-west. In Debaltseve between 16:19 and 16:51hrs, the SMM heard the sound of outgoing artillery fire from a location 10-15 kilometres to the north-west. In Debaltseve, the SMM noted that almost all buildings had sustained damage, assessed to have been caused by artillery. All the streets and open spaces inside the town were full of debris and remnants of war. All roads were damaged from shelling. Very few people – mostly elderly – were on the streets. Metal chimneys leading out of basements were emitting smoke. Local people told the SMM that there was no electricity or gas and food was unavailable in shops. They said there were no working hospitals, First Aid stations or medical supplies in the town. The SMM observed the presence of many “DPR” armed men and military hardware in the town. On 21 February an SMM UAV – flying over Debaltseve – spotted destroyed military trucks and damaged buildings. The UAV also noted the presence of armoured personnel carriers, trucks – one most probably carrying missiles – and three artillery positions.
In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (44km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM on 21 February heard the sound of approximately 50 explosions emanating from the south-west, and eight explosions from the north-east. On 22 February, the SMM spoke to a doctor wearing a “DPR” uniform at a hospital in Horlivka who said that 70-80 civilians had been killed in the town since November.
In “DPR”-controlled Vuhlehirsk (50km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM on 22 February heard several bursts of outgoing small-arms fire, originating from a location approximately two kilometres south-east of its position, and three outgoing mortar rounds one or two kilometres south of its position.
Whilst at a Ukrainian military checkpoint in government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north of Donetsk), the SMM on 21 February saw a mortar round impacting approximately 300 metres to the west of the checkpoint. In government-controlled Odradivka (56km north of Donetsk), the SMM observed an artillery round impacting approximately three kilometres east-south-east of its position. The SMM whilst in Odradivka also heard the sound of 20 distant explosions, emanating approximately 20 kilometres to the east. Three kilometres west-north-west of government-controlled Krasnohorivka (22km north-north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard continuous artillery between 10:30 and 10:57hrs on 21 February. In government-controlled Svobodne (52km south of Donetsk) the SMM on 21 February heard 10 outgoing artillery rounds emanating from a location 10-15 kilometres to the north-east.
In “DPR”-controlled Oktyabr (82km south of Donetsk), the SMM on 21 February heard the sound of two or three artillery rounds emanating from a location 10-15 kilometres to the south. Later whilst stationary at a “DPR” checkpoint in the village, the SMM heard the sound of approximately 40 artillery rounds emanating from a location approximately 15 kilometres to the south. Just west of government-controlled Hranitne (57km south of Donetsk), the SMM on 22 February heard two instances of heavy shelling to the south. On arrival in the village, the SMM heard shelling from a location to the east. Close to government-controlled Lebedynske (83km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard incoming and outgoing shelling from the direction of Shyrokyne (125km south of Donetsk).
Five kilometres north-east of government-controlled Stahronativka (48km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed two 220mm rocket remnants and cargo compartments for cluster munitions protruding from the ground.
At the JCCC headquarters temporarily re-located to government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk), the SMM received JCCC incident logs on 21 and 22 February, which indicated a concentration of fighting in and around the Donetsk airport.
Both the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, and the Russian Major-General, Representative of Russian Federation Armed Forces to the JCCC, told the SMM on 21 February that they had tried to broker a truce around the airport but to no avail. They said they intended to visit the airport area on 23 February in order to force a cessation of hostilities in the area. Both Major-Generals said on 21 February they intended to send a co-signed letter to the “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) requesting that small numbers of Ukrainian soldiers trapped around “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve be released to Ukrainian lines. On 22 February, the request was denied by the “DPR”. The “LPR” did not respond.
On 22 February, the Russian Federation Armed Forces Colonel-General present at the JCCC in Soledar told the SMM the “LPR” and “DPR” had signed a Plan for the Disengagement and Withdrawal of Heavy Weapons. The plan, they said, envisages the withdrawal of weapon systems in excess of 100mm by 27 February and the establishment of a de-militarised zone by 7 March.
On 21 February, in the vicinity of government controlled Vrubivka (74km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard the sound of four artillery explosions coming from an area 10-15 kilometres to the south-east. Also on 21 February, the SMM heard multiple sporadic detonations from an area to the south-east of its position at a Ukrainian military checkpoint near government-controlled Popasna (80km west of Luhansk). On the same day, the SMM – at an “LPR” checkpoint 30 kilometres west of Luhansk – heard a single outgoing artillery round emanating from a location approximately 35 kilometres to the north-east.
At 13:15hrs on 22 February, the SMM – whilst monitoring a pro-Maidan march in Kharkiv – heard a blast and felt shockwaves. Five minutes later, 100 metres from their initial position, the SMM saw two dead bodies, and other casualties being attended to. At 14:45hrs, a police spokesperson at the scene said the explosive device used had consisted of TNT explosive and shrapnel concealed in a plastic bag. (See Spot Report, 22 February).
The Odessa regional headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) told the SMM on 22 February that they had carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect device left in front of a café on Zhukovskoho Street in Odessa in the early hours of 22 February. According to the MIA, the device contained 200 grams of TNT equivalent in a plastic bag. There were no casualties. At the scene later that day, the SMM spoke to the manager of the café, who said the police were treating the incident as terrorist-related. The Odessa regional department of the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) later corroborated this information.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv.