Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 25 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 fighting in some areas. The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) continued to make plans for the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The SMM visited Debaltseve and saw destruction caused by recent fighting.
The SMM went to “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Debaltseve (56km north-east of Donetsk) to assess the humanitarian situation in the town. The SMM noted almost all the buildings in the city centre were destroyed or heavily damaged. According to civilians the SMM spoke to, there is an urgent need for electricity, gas, and water. The SMM saw approximately 200 mostly elderly female civilians queuing at an aid distribution point. A doctor at the local hospital and a “DPR” member told the SMM that gaps in staffing are filled with doctors and nurses on rotation from medical facilities in Donetsk city.
In Kuybyshevskyi district of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk (9km west-north-west of the city centre), the SMM heard two explosions (one at 11:16hrs, another at 11:27hrs) consistent with outgoing heavy artillery fire 10-15km west-north-west of their location. In “DPR”-controlled Karlo-Marksove (6km north-north-east of Yenakieve, 42km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard one explosion at 10:35hrs, consistent with incoming fire emanating from between 8-10km to the north-west of its location.
The head of the Emergency Services Department in government-controlled Dzerzhynsk (42km north of Donetsk) told the SMM that since 15 February there had been a significant reduction in shelling and repairs had been undertaken. According to the head, the water supply has been reconnected after being cut for three weeks, as a result of the efforts of former local authority colleagues co-operating across the line of contact.
The SMM went to an observation point overlooking the government-controlled town of Berdianske (102km south of Donetsk; 18km east of Mariupol), and the surrounding area to get an overview of the situation. The SMM observed no military movements, in marked contrast to the military activity witnessed on 24 February. In Berdianske itself, the SMM noted a minimal presence of Ukrainian Armed Forces, much reduced compared to the day before. Sporadic incoming and outgoing small arms fire was heard by the SMM between 10:30 and 10:55hrs at a distance of approximately one kilometre north-north-east from the town.
The SMM visited the headquarters (HQ) of the JCCC temporarily relocated to government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk). Officers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces were present, as well as members of the “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). The Russian Federation Colonel-General said that the first phase of weapons withdrawal by “DPR” began on 24 February and should be completed by 27 February. Both the Russian Colonel-General and the Ukrainian Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, said that no JCCC joint patrols were foreseen so as to avoid disclosing military positions to the opposite side. Neither was willing to disclose the location of designated concentration sites for weapons following withdrawal.
In government-controlled Starobilsk (90km north of Luhansk) the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces commanders of JCCC units told the SMM that they had still not received any plans or orders from their HQ regarding withdrawal of weapons.
In government-controlled Nyzhnie (61km north of Luhansk) the SMM heard outgoing mortar and artillery fire approximately 10 kilometres east of its location, and its subsequent impact 15-25 kilometres to the south-east. At 10:20hrs, the SMM in government-controlled Muratove (66km north of Luhansk) heard 10-15 outgoing mortar shells and heavy machine gun fire 10 kilometres east of its position. From 11:30 to 11:50hrs the SMM heard incoming and outgoing artillery less than 10 kilometres away to the south-east.
At 12:20hrs, 15 kilometres to the north-west of “LPR”-controlled Krasny Luch (66km south of Luhansk) the SMM heard 10 instances of outgoing artillery fire, probably Grad rockets, at a distance approximately 10-15 kilometres to the east.
A Cossack leader in “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk (85km south-east of Luhansk) told the SMM of plans to establish an “LPR” “customs regime” at border crossing points currently controlled by Cossack groups. The Cossack leader insisted on an escort for the SMM in areas under his control and said he that the SMM should inform him before entering these areas.
In the vicinity of Donetsk airport, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) saw a military camp, and five tanks amongst the buildings. A “DPR” camp with numerous heavy vehicles was seen in an area north of “DPR”-controlled Spartak (7km north of Donetsk).
The SMM monitored a “Pravyy Sektor” (Right Sector) march in Kyiv, attended by some 800 people (mainly young men, and some women) including volunteer battalion members. The march proceeded under heavy police escort to the General Prosecutor’s Office, where participants shouted slogans and demanded an investigation into the death of a Right Sector member who died during his arrest by police in March 2014. The group continued to the Ministry of Interior building and repeated their demands. The march ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.