Latest from the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 18:00hrs, 4 March 2015
This report is for the media and general public
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Based on its monitoring – which was restricted by third parties and by security considerations* – the SMM assessed the security situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as relatively calm.
The SMM conducted a patrol to the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (8km north-west of Donetsk city-centre). During the SMM presence from 14:15 until 15:20hrs, the situation in the airport was calm and quiet. Inside the new terminal building the SMM observed two dead bodies (possibly Ukrainian soldiers).
In Kalininskyi district of Donetsk city, the SMM saw one multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicle (MTLB) mounted short range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system – moving along Illicha Boulevard first in the western and later on in the eastern direction. The launching unit was covered with canvas.
From its position in Donetsk city-centre the SMM heard the sound of explosions on several occasions. At 17:45hrs three explosions were heard, consistent with tank fire. The sound came from a southern direction, from around 10 kilometres distance. The SMM could not determine if the shelling was outgoing or incoming. At 18:18hrs one explosion was heard of undetermined source. The sound came from a north-western direction, from around 10 kilometres distance.
The head of the Donetsk Gusak Surgery Institute told the SMM about an accident that occurred in the Zasyadko coalmine (7 km north-west of the Donetsk city-centre) in the early morning hours. According to the interlocutor five casualties were treated at the hospital during the day. The SMM spoke to two of the casualties (two middle aged men) who stated that the accident was caused by a gas explosion. They could not confirm the number of casualties.
In government-controlled Selydove (43km north-west of Donetsk) the SMM met a pre-assembled Ukrainian Armed Forces military convoy consisting of four self-propelled 152mm howitzers. The SMM followed the convoy eight kilometres to the west. The SMM could not verify the withdrawal of heavy weapons on this occasion due to a restriction on its freedom of movement.*
While proceeding through government-controlled Zoryane (30km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw one 122mm self-propelled howitzer accompanied by an MTLB-based support vehicle moving in a northerly direction.
South-west of government-controlled Bohoyavlenka village (48km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces military convoy comprised of two self-propelled howitzers, an armoured personnel carrier (APC) and a support vehicle. The SMM followed the convoy moving in a westerly direction for less than three kilometres. The SMM could not verify the withdrawal of heavy weapons on this occasion due to a restriction on its freedom of movement.*
The SMM visited Debaltseve (“DPR”-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk) and assessed the situation inside the town as calm and quiet. The streets had been cleared of battle wreckage and remnants of war. Destroyed tanks, previously observed by the SMM, had been removed. The main electrical power line was being repaired. Approximately 100 people, mainly elderly women, were queuing for humanitarian aid in front of the aid distribution centre.
At the temporary headquarters of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk), the SMM was shown the JCCC incident log, which recorded 58 alleged ceasefire violations for the 24-hour period preceding 08:00hrs, 4 March, which allegedly mostly occurred at the Donetsk airport.
The SMM went to a pre-arranged meeting point to observe the scheduled movement of Ukrainian Armed Forces 152mm howitzers from government-controlled Klynove (64km north-east of Donetsk). The convoy consisted of three 152mm howitzers, one surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher and one MTLB. The convoy started moving to a point near Soledar (government-controlled, 77km north of Donetsk), where it joined another convoy. In total, there were eight 152mm howitzers, three SAMs, five MTLBs and three large trucks with ammunition. The SMM could not verify the withdrawal of heavy weapons on this occasion due to a restriction on its freedom of movement.* While in Klynove, the SMM heard about 40 incoming impacts from the south-east, probably of 152mm calibre.
The SMM monitored a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy, consisting of six self-propelled howitzers (including three 122mm) and one armoured personnel carrier (APC), near government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM could not verify the withdrawal of heavy weapons on this occasion due to restrictions on its freedom of movement.*
The SMM monitored the movement of a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy of four self-propelled howitzers (two C1, two S1, Gvozdivka, 122mm) on the road towards Kapitanove (government-controlled, 50km north-west of Luhansk), approximately three kilometres from the main road. The convoy was already on the move and the SMM followed it until it went across a dirt track and could not be followed any more.
In the vicinity of government-controlled Shchastia (23km north of Luhansk) the SMM saw a Ukrainian Armed Forces truck towing a 122mm howitzer, travelling west. The SMM spotted a 152mm self-propelled howitzer, heading from Stanytsia Luhanska in a northerly direction. The SMM could not verify the withdrawal of heavy weapons on this occasion due to a restriction on its freedom of movement.*
The city authorities in Chervonohrad (80km north of Lviv) told the SMM about an ongoing strike of local coal miners since 2 March. According to the interlocutors, their main demand is the payment of their salaries which they claim they have not received since last December. As a result, the coal miners have suspended work and gather every day, until 14:00hrs, at the main square of the town. The miners announced that if no salaries are paid by 6 March, they would block the national road linking Lviv with the area of Kovel (200km north of Lviv), an adjacent region. A group of these coal miners were also part of a large protest of miners on 2 March in front of the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv (see SMM Daily Report 2 March).
The SMM met with the deputy head of the Kyiv regional police directorate, who stated that crime statistics have changed due to the influx of firearms from the area of conflict. Criminals who specialize in burglary are now often armed, which was not the case before. In two of such incidents firearms were used against the police. According to the interlocutor police had established six checkpoints at the entry roads to Kyiv with reinforced presence of traffic police, special purpose units, operational units and dog handlers. Random checks of vehicles have been conducted and, according to the interlocutor, more than 100 pieces of ammunition, grenades and guns had been confiscated. (The SMM previously followed up on media reports about deployment of concrete roadblocks at the city’s main access points and observed positions staffed by Ukrainian personnel. See SMM Daily Report 12 February).
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk.
* Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by security considerations including the lack of information on the whereabouts of landmines, and restrictions imposed by third parties.
The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere. For this reason, the SMM requires security guarantees from “DPR” and “LPR” which are not always provided. Where such guarantees are limited to escorted movements, and escorts are not provided for all planned patrols or are delayed, this also represents a restriction on SMM freedom of movement.
In particular during the reporting period:
- At the beginning of government-controlled Novodimytriivka village (51km north-west of Donetsk) the Ukrainian Armed Forces commander told the SMM that it could not continue to follow the convoy from government-controlled Selydove (43km north-west of Donetsk) and that he was not allowed to disclose its final destination.
- South-west of government-controlled Bohoyavlenka village (48km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM was told by a commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces that it could not continue to follow the convoy.
- In government-controlled Klynove (64km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM could not continue to follow the convoy as a representative of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told the SMM that it was not allowed to do so.
- At the entrance of Novoaidar (government-controlled, 57km north of Luhansk) the Ukrainian Armed Forces commander of a convoy of heavy weapons coming from government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-east of Luhansk), told the SMM that it could not follow the convoy further.
- A representative of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told the SMM that it was not allowed to monitor the further movement of self-propelled 152mm howitzer from government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (88km north-east of Luhansk) towards a northerly direction.
- At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint, north of Olenivka (22km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was held up for 20 minutes until the local “DPR” commander came and escorted the SMM through Olenivka to the last “DPR”-controlled checkpoint south of the town.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint, 10 kilometres north of Mariupol, the SMM was held up for 35 minutes – and allowed to proceed only after contacting Ukrainian authorities.