Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 24 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 security considerations – noted that fighting continued around the eastern flank of Mariupol near government-controlled Berdianske and in several other locations in the Donetsk region. Only a few ceasefire violations were observed in the Luhansk region.
At 11:18hrs, whilst in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Snizhne (74km east of Donetsk), the SMM heard one explosion, more than 10 kilometres south of its position. The SMM assessed that the sound was consistent with outgoing Main Battle Tank (MBT) fire. At 11:30hrs, whilst at the “DPR”-controlled H21-T0517 road junction (55km east of Donetsk) near government-controlled Artemivsk (77km north north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard three explosions 10 kilometres south of its location. The SMM assessed that the sound was consistent with outgoing MBT fire. At 13:31hrs, whilst at the government-controlled E40/M3 roads junction (66km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard three outgoing artillery rounds. The sound was emanating from more than 10 kilometres south-south-west of the SMM position. The SMM could not assess the weapon system involved in the incident. From 11:10 to 11:31hrs whilst in government-controlled Novoluhanske (53km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard intermittent shelling. The sound of the shelling was emanating from 8 to 10 kilometres south-east of the SMM’s position. The SMM was unable to determine whether the shelling was incoming or outgoing.
At 10:50hrs, whilst at the centre of government-controlled Sartana (90km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard 10 to 15 incoming and outgoing bursts. The SMM assessed that the explosions were consistent with artillery or MBT fire. The sound of the bursts was emanating from 10 kilometres south-east of the SMM’s position. Between 10:15 and 10:30hrs, whist in government-controlled Lebedynske (83km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard continuous incoming and outgoing 82mm mortar fire. The sound of the shelling was coming from five kilometres east of the SMM’s position. From 11:00 to 13:30hrs in government-controlled Berdianske (95km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard continuous incoming and outgoing artillery, MBT, 82mm mortar and heavy machine gun fire. The sound of the shelling and shooting was emanating from one to five kilometres north-north-east of the SMM’s location.
At 14:05hrs whilst in the western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km east of Donetsk), the SMM observed movement of weapons: a convoy consisting of 16 unmarked green military-type trucks and two utility vehicles was moving eastbound on the H21 road towards Makiivka centre. All of the trucks were towing howitzers (D-30 122mm). At 10:00hrs, whilst at the “DPR”-controlled T-0507 / H21 roads section (27km east of Donetsk) between “DPR”-controlled Amvrosiivka (57km south-east of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Illovaisk (31km east south-east of Donetsk ”), the SMM spotted a static MBT (T64). At 13:10hrs, the SMM further saw a convoy consisting of 10 unmarked military trucks each towing howitzers (152mm). The convoy was moving southbound on the T-0507 road. At 12:38hrs, the SMM observed four static MBTs (T64) located 7.5 km of the same aforementioned section (28.5km east of Donetsk).
At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters temporarily relocated in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk), the SMM observed the presence of the Russian Colonel-General and Major-General, Representatives of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the JCCC, the Chief of Staff (CoS) of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, and members of the “DPR” and “LPR”.
The Russian Colonel-General provided the SMM with copies of schedules for the gradual withdrawal of heavy weapons by the “DPR” and “LPR”, and the Ukrainian CoS provided a copy of a schedule for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These schedules did not appear to be co-ordinated or jointly agreed. Although at least one schedule indicated a start date as early as 22 February, Ukrainian and Russian JCCC representatives admitted that they had not actually observed any withdrawal by the “DPR” or “LPR”.
The Ukrainian CoS said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would not initiate weapons withdrawal until a comprehensive 48-hour ceasefire had been observed along the line of contact, as foreseen by the Minsk agreements of September 2014. In the meantime, none of the signatories to the package of measures had provided the baseline information requested by the Chief Monitor that would enable the SMM to monitor and verify that all weapons had been withdrawn.
According to the incident log for 23-24 February, the JCCC noted half as less violations as it had reported the day before, with a high concentration of fighting in the vicinity of contested Shyrokyne (102km south of Donetsk ; 23km east of Mariupol).
From 11:15 to 13:00hrs, whilst in government-controlled Shchastia (23km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard artillery bursts. The sound of the bursts was emanating from ten kilometres south-south-west of the SMM’s location. The SMM was unable to determine whether the shelling was outgoing or incoming and the weapon system involved in the shelling. The explosions were still ongoing when the SMM left the area. The SMM assessed that the situation in Shchastia itself was calm.
At 10:10hrs, whilst in the outskirts of government-controlled Muratove (66km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard more than 50 outgoing artillery bursts. The sound of the shelling came more than 10 kilometres east of the SMM’s position. At 13:10hrs, still at Muratove, the SMM heard the sound of an unspecified number of incoming and outgoing artillery bursts emanating from 10 kilometres south-east of the SMM’s location. The SMM assessed that both shelling was fired by a BM-21 Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). Between 10:30 and 13:45hrs, the SMM heard distant sporadic artillery shelling and small arms fire. The SMM could not assess the distance and direction of the shelling and shooting and whether it was incoming or outgoing.
At “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne Border Crossing Point on the Ukrainian-Russian Federation State Border, a “LPR custom officer” said to the SMM that the “LPR” had established a “customs control department” on 4 February. The interlocutor added that the “LPR” now intends to establish “custom posts” at the “LPR”-controlled Border Crossing Points Chervonypartizansk (86km south-east of Luhansk) and Dovzhanske (106km south-east of Luhansk) after it had already created a post at ”LPR”-controlled Izvaryne.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Kyiv, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.