Latest from the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 18:00hrs, 5 March 2015
Please note that this report is provided for the public and the media
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 – assessed the security situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as relatively calm. The SMM observed no violence in the Luhansk region. The SMM monitored the movement of numerous Ukrainian Armed Forces convoys. It verified that a convoy of weapons moved by the Ukrainian Armed Forces the previous day remained in situ.
The SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy consisting of four Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) in government-controlled Antonivka (44km west-south-west of Donetsk), and followed it four kilometres west, until it was prevented from proceeding further by the convoy commander.* (* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.)
Near government-controlled Mikhailivka (39km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy consisting of three Grad MLRS, and followed it as far as Novodmytrivka (46km west-north-west of Donetsk), where the convoy commander refused to allow the SMM to proceed further.*
The SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy consisting of 12 Grad MLRS in government-controlled Novoselivka Persha (45km north-east of Donetsk) and followed it as far as government-controlled Zhovte (56km north-west of Donetsk), where the convoy commander refused to allow the SMM to proceed further.*
Near government-controlled Novoselivka Persha (45km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy consisting of nine howitzers; and five armoured tracked vehicles. The SMM monitored the convoy to a location described by the convoy commander as the end-point. The SMM intends to re-visit the location to verify that the weapons remain in situ.
Six kilometres east of government-controlled Artemivsk (65km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy consisting of seven Grad MLRS and 10 supply trucks with ammunition, clothes and other supplies. It was subsequently passed by another convoy consisting of 10 Grad MLRS, five armoured personnel carriers and 15 trucks carrying supplies and personnel. The SMM followed the convoys to separate locations described by the convoy commanders as the end-points. The SMM intends to re-visit the locations to verify that the weapons remain in situ.
On the eastern outskirts of government-controlled Kasianivka (76km south of Donetsk), the SMM met a Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy consisting of six Grad MLRS, and proceeded with it to the northern outskirts of government-controlled Volodarske (93km south of Donetsk), where an additional three Grad MLRS joined the convoy. The convoy continued on to a location described as the end-point – and where the SMM noted that military hardware stored there the previous day by the Ukrainian Armed Forces was still in situ.
The SMM observed three tanks in three separate locations in government-controlled territory west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol; 102km south of Donetsk). On the outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Telmanove (50km south-south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed four stationary tanks.
In government-controlled Pisky (11km north-north-west of Donetsk) – following a road traffic accident involving an SMM vehicle and a civilian car occupied by three Ukrainian volunteer battalion soldiers – a young Ukrainian volunteer battalion soldier behaved in an aggressive and threatening manner towards the SMM, at one point even removing the safety catch on his assault rifle. His colleagues de-escalated the situation immediately.
At the Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw 12 men, who, according to a camouflaged member of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) were Ukrainian soldiers captured following the “DPR” take-over of the airport. The “DPR” member said an additional 100 Ukrainian soldiers were being held at the airport. The SMM observed the bodies of what appeared to be three Ukrainian soldiers and an unidentifiable fourth body. The “DPR” member said an additional 20 bodies were thought to lie under rubble at the airport, awaiting removal, which, he said, had been delayed because of security concerns and lack of required equipment. Whilst at the airport between 10:34 and 12:26hrs, the SMM heard at least 13 incoming and outgoing artillery rounds, assessed to have emanated from government-controlled Pisky (12km north-west of Donetsk), government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north-north-west-of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Spartak (10km north- north-west- of Donetsk). The SMM also heard the sound of small arms fire coming from the direction of government-controlled Pisky.
Having received information from Ukrainian officers attached to the JCCC office in government-controlled Starobilsk (84km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed the movement of multiple Ukrainian Armed Forces convoys of Grad MLRS. Near government-controlled Dmytrivka (43km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed a pre-assembled convoy of three Grad MLRS travelling north. In government-controlled Denezhnykove (65km north-west of Luhansk), an additional Grad MLRS was added to the convoy, which then proceeded to government-controlled Shtormove (60km north-north-west of Luhansk). At this point the convoy commander refused to allow the SMM to continue further.*
In government-controlled Novookhtirka (51km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two MLRS. The SMM monitored the convoy as far as a location described by the convoy commander as the end-point. At the location the SMM observed an additional four stationary MLRS. The SMM intends to re-visit the location to verify that the weapons remain in situ.
Outside government-controlled Novoaidar (57km north of Luhansk), the SMM met a convoy of four Grad MLRS and a supply truck, loaded with ammunition. The SMM monitored the convoy as far as government-controlled Shtormove (60km north of Luhansk), at which point the convoy commander refused to allow the SMM to proceed further.*
Near government-controlled Kapitanove (50km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM met a convoy of four Grad MLRS, which it monitored as far as a location described by the convoy commander as the end-point. The SMM intends to re-visit the location to verify that the weapons remain in situ.
The SMM observed no violence in the Luhansk region during the reporting period. Whilst engaged in extensive monitoring in “LPR”-controlled areas to the south-east of Luhansk – extending out from the city as far as “LPR”-controlled Sieverohundorivskyi (47km south-east of Luhansk) – the SMM noted the apparent absence of military personnel or hardware.
The Odessa regional headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) told the SMM that there had been a bomb explosion in Odessa in the early hours of the morning. The MIA said that a home-made non-fragmentation device with approximately one kilogram of TNT (trinitrotoluene) equivalent had exploded inside an apartment on Koblevska Street, resulting in a large blast wave but little damage and no casualties. The SMM – at the scene later that day – noted some minor damage to the interior of the apartment and shattered windows. Both the MIA and the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) told the SMM that the incident was being treated as terrorist related. Separately, the MIA also told the SMM that police had seized small arms, ammunition, TNT (trinitrotoluene) and a grenade in an apartment in Pershotravneve (40km north-east of Odessa) on 28 February.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv.
* 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 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:
- On two separate occasions the checkpoint “commander” at a “DPR” checkpoint one kilometre east of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol; 102km south of Donetsk) prevented the SMM from entering the village.
- On two separate occasions, Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy commanders prevented the SMM from monitoring the movement of heavy weapons beyond government-controlled Shtormove (60km north-north-west of Luhansk).
-In three separate instances in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian Armed Forces convoy commanders prevented the SMM from monitoring the movement of military hardware beyond certain points.