Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 12 March 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* – observed that fighting continued in areas around the Donetsk airport and in Shyrokyne, east of Mariupol.
The SMM monitored a visit by members of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) to Donetsk Airport (10km north-west of Donetsk city centre). Whilst at a location 180m south-east of Donetsk airport new terminal’s entrance, the SMM heard 90 explosions. The SMM could not ascertain the type, source or target of the firing. At 11:55hrs the SMM heard an anti-tank guided missile fly over the area of the airport. The SMM could not ascertain the source and target of the missile.
At 11:54hrs and at 12:07hrs whilst in government-controlled Volnovakha (51km south-south-west of Donetsk) the SMM heard the sound of two explosions coming from an easterly direction. The SMM could not ascertain the type, source or target of the firing.
Between 11:40 and 12:00hrs, while waiting to pass a Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) checkpoint located on the highway H20 (10km north of Donetsk city), the SMM heard 11 explosions coming from a westerly direction, at an approximate distance of five kilometres from its position. The SMM could not ascertain the type, source or target of the firing.
Between 12:20 and 12:25hrs, the SMM heard in the village of Kruta Balka (“DPR”-controlled, 16km north of Donetsk) an exchange of small-arms fire at an approximate distance of one kilometre east of its position.
In the area of Pervomaiske (government-controlled, 15km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard shelling and two explosions near Pisky (government-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk). The SMM could not ascertain the type, source or target of firing.
On the outskirts of Dzerzhynsk (government-controlled, 42km north of Donetsk) between 11:40 and 11:50hrs the SMM heard at the southern parts of the village, sporadic small-arms fire, as well as heavy-machine-gun fire, from an east-south-easterly direction. The SMM estimates that the firing was outgoing from the area near Artemove (government-controlled, 40km north of Donetsk).
At 07:15hrs, the SMM heard in Berdianske (government-controlled, 98km south of Donetsk, 18km east of Mariupol) an exchange of small arms fire, originating mostly from easterly and westerly directions, at the south of SMM’s position. It soon became an intensive exchange of fire (both outgoing and incoming), involving mortar, tank, anti-aircraft and heavy machine gun fire. The SMM heard mortar shells, calibres ranging from 120mm to 82mm, being fired from a westerly towards an easterly and north-easterly direction. The SMM heard 15 tank shells fired from a north-easterly direction towards the south-east, the direction of Shyrokyne (“DPR”-controlled, 97km south of Donetsk, 20km east of Mariupol). The outgoing and incoming fire continued until 13:00hrs. The SMM observed two tanks (T-64), located approximately 600m north-east of its position and saw these tanks firing more than 20 rounds into the direction of Shyrokyne.
The SMM visited four Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons storage sites compliant with Measure 2 of the Minsk Package where it saw 10 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (122mm), five mortars (122mm), four self-propelled howitzers (152mm), four self-propelled howitzers (122mm), six Uragan systems and 28 towed howitzers (152mm). It was the fourth time the SMM visited these sites and confirmed that all the weapons previously observed at these sites remained there.
At the JCCC headquarters (HQ) in Soledar (government-controlled, 77km north of Donetsk) the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, stated that the current statistics revealed the highest number of ceasefire violations this month. The Ukrainian Major-General said that, according to JCCC statistics, 120mm mortar, as well as 122mm and 152mm tubed artillery were being used. The most kinetic area remains Donetsk airport and the surrounding villages with 59 violations within the 24 hours preceding 08:00hrs on 11 March. The Ukrainian Major-General provided the SMM with a list of weapons and weapon systems, by class and type that he said had been withdrawn by Ukrainian Armed Forces between 26 February and 7 March. He insisted that the SMM should have full freedom of movement and, should it encounter any restriction, should contact the JCCC HQ directly so that it could be lifted.
In Luhansk the SMM met with the deputy “commander” of the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) armed group. The interlocutor submitted to the SMM a list of 157 “LPR” members who are supposedly held by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The interlocutor stated that facilitation for the exchange of detainees has been entrusted to the civil society organization “Afghanistan War Veterans” and that the exchange was proposed to take place at the Shchastia bridge (government-controlled 24km north of Luhansk).
The SMM met in Krasnyi Luch (“LPR”-controlled, 55km south-west of Luhansk) with the Cossack “head of intelligence”, who expressed his concern about the presence of criminal armed groups in the area. According to him, these groups were mainly former prisoners liberated during the conflict and well-armed, including with heavy weapons.
The spokesperson of the regional police in Odessa told the SMM that an explosion occurred on 12 March at 00:40hrs at Admiralskyi Avenue. According to the interlocutor an explosive device was placed next door to the main entrance where the office of "Samopomich" party is located. The explosion was caused by a non-fragmentation device with approximately 0.5 kg of trinitrotoluene (TNT), causing damage to the office. No casualties were reported. The explosion is being investigated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) as a terrorist act. The SMM visited the explosion site and saw destroyed furniture and office equipment, damage to walls, and blown out windows. Windows of the upper two floors of the building were also damaged. Of note, a volunteer collection centre located in the same street was previously the site of an explosion on 10 December (see SMM Daily Report 10 December 2014).
In Kyiv the SMM observed about 30 people (between approximately 20 and 70 years, mainly male) who protested in front of the Embassy of the Russian Federation demanding the termination of the detention of a Svoboda party member in Simferopol as well as other people who were imprisoned in Crimea. The demonstration aimed to draw public attention to alleged violations of human rights in Crimea and in areas not controlled by the government in the east. As the time passed approximately 20 members of the “Pravyy Sektor” (Right Sector) arrived in military uniforms with covered faces to join the other protestors. The protest was peaceful and about 40 police officers monitored the protest, which latest for about an hour.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.
* Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines.
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 of SMM freedom of movement.
In particular during the reporting period:
-At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at Volnovakha (51km south-south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was stopped and denied passage. The patrol was held at the CP for two hours.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint north of Mariupol a SMM patrol was not allowed to pass. When the team tried to explain the role of the SMM, referring to relevant documents, the commander tapped his assault rifle and stated that here, "Mr. Kalashnikov decides who goes where". The team decided not to argue with the commander and aborted their patrol.