Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 16 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 in and around the Donetsk airport and in areas to the east of Mariupol.
From 9:17 to 9:57hrs the SMM heard from its location in Donetsk city centre (“Donetsk People’s Republic” “DPR”-controlled) at least 16 incoming mortar rounds, estimated as 82mm and 122mm calibre. The SMM assessed that the impacts occurred approximately 10km north-west of its location, in the vicinity of the Donetsk airport (“DPR”-controlled, 10km north-west of Donetsk).
Whilst in the vicinity of the Donetsk airport* the SMM heard more than 100 explosions (incoming and outgoing) three to five kilometres north and west of its location. The SMM assessed that a variety of weapons were used, including heavy mortar, main battle tanks, artillery, canons mounted to armoured personnel carriers, and small arms and light weapons.
At 12:55hrs while stationary in the “DPR”-controlled Kuybyshevskyi district of Donetsk city* (3km west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard five rounds of outgoing artillery fire (2 to 3km west of its location). The SMM could not determine the type of artillery weapon used or the direction of firing.
The SMM continued to observe the situation around Shyrokyne (“DPR”-controlled,102km south of Donetsk, 20km east of Mariupol) from a location between Sopyne (99km south of Donetsk) and Lebedynske (83km south of Donetsk), both government-controlled. From 6:50 to 9:50hrs, the SMM heard sporadic small arms and heavy machine gun fire and 17 mortar (82mm and 120mm) rounds most of them estimated as originating from east of SMM’s location, from government-controlled territory. The SMM could not ascertain the target of the firing. At 11:07hrs, the SMM heard machine gun fire, which according to SMM’s estimation, originated one kilometre from its position. The SMM could not ascertain the source and target of the firing.
In Horlivka* (“DPR”-controlled, 40km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed three main battle tanks (one T64, one T72, and one that SMM could not identify) stationary, facing west, on highway H21, 21km east of Donetsk between the “DPR”-controlled towns of Khartsyzk and Makiivka.
The SMM met the mayor of Mariupol (government-controlled, 98km south of Donetsk) who mentioned the possibility of "terrorist acts taking place in Mariupol around 19 of March as one year will be complete over Crimea’s annexation by Russian Federation".
The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk) recorded 71 allegations of ceasefire violation for the 24 hours to 08:00hrs on 16 March. None of these allegations involved multiple launch rocket systems or tubed artillery; more than half came from the area of the Donetsk airport.
The SMM met the head of the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) armed groups in Perevalsk (“LPR”-controlled, 40km south-west of Luhansk), who said that “commander” Kozitsyn was in charge of Cossack armed groups in Antratsyt (51km south-west of Luhansk), Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), and parts of Krasnodon (43km south-east of Luhansk) district, all areas controlled by “LPR”. According to him, the Cossacks of these areas had integrated within the “LPR” armed structures, but as distinct Cossack units.
The police in Lviv informed the SMM of three bomb hoax phone calls during the morning: one claiming a bomb had been placed near the ‘Monument of the Soviet Army Honour in Battle’ located in one of the main streets of the city, another at Lviv Airport and one at a supermarket near Lviv city centre. At the airport the SMM saw police units evacuating around 80 passengers from the arrival hall. According to police one suspected local was apprehended.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv.
* 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:
- On its way from Novotroitske (government-controlled, 59km west-north-west of Donetsk) to Donetsk city, the SMM was stopped at the first “DPR” checkpoint (22km west-south-west of Donetsk), where members were requested to present their OSCE red books.
- The SMM was prevented from accessing Hranitne (57km south of Donetsk) at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint located in the vicinity of the village. The commander told the SMM not to proceed due to security reasons.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM was asked about the nationality of all team members and the information was written down by checkpoint personnel. The SMM was told by the checkpoint personnel that they have been instructed to seek information about all OSCE members passing through the checkpoint.
- The SMM was stopped by “LPR” members after passing the village of Oguluchansk (“LPR”-controlled, 35km east from Luhansk), asking the SMM to request permission from “LPR” structures in Luhansk in order to monitor the area. The “LPR” members escorted the SMM in the direction of Luhansk city through the village of Oguluchansk where they left the SMM to proceed without their escort.
- At the checkpoint at the northern entrance of Krasnyi Luch (“LPR”-controlled, 55km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM had to wait for one hour before being allowed to enter the city escorted by the local Cossack commander and “head of intelligence”.