Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 19 March 2015
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 sporadic artillery and mortar fire in a number of locations.
Whilst patrolling in and around the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled remains of the Donetsk airport* (10km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM noted a calm situation, with the exception of two heavy machine gun bursts emanating from the airport, each consisting of five to 10 rounds, which the SMM heard from its position 1.5km south-east of the airport.
In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka* (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 65 wooden munitions cases, one of which was open, revealing anti-tank ammunition rounds inside. Whilst in Horlivka, between 10:55 and 11:12hrs, the SMM heard approximately 40 explosions, assessed to have been incoming heavy artillery or mortar rounds impacting at a location approximately five kilometres to the south-east. At 11:57hrs, the SMM heard four explosions, assessed to have been outgoing heavy artillery rounds emanating from a location approximately five kilometres to the south-east. At 12:00hrs, the SMM heard two explosions, assessed to have been outgoing heavy artillery rounds from a location four or five kilometres to the east.
In “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne* (28km east of Mariupol; 9km east of Shyrokyne), the SMM met the Russian Colonel-General, Representative of Russian Federation Armed Forces to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in Soledar (77km north of Donetsk). He said that from 23 March both Ukrainian and Russian JCCC representatives planned to set up observation points in Shyrokyne and at the Donetsk airport. These observation points would, he said, consist of between three and five military officers from both Russian and Ukrainian Armed Forces, tasked with monitoring, registering and stopping ceasefire violations as they occur.
In government-controlled Avdiivka (14km north-north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard approximately 15 incoming mortar rounds over the space of 11 minutes.
Positioned at a vantage point five kilometres west of “DPR”-controlled Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the SMM over a two hour period observed three Ukrainian Armed Forces tanks firing approximately 90 tank rounds at “DPR”-held positions in Shyrokyne. The SMM heard approximately 30 incoming tank rounds impacting close to Ukrainian Armed Forces positions, and saw incoming air-burst 82mm mortar shells exploding half a kilometre east of the SMM’s position in government-controlled territory.
Having just exited a train in government-controlled Kramatorsk (78km north of Donetsk), an SMM monitor was approached by three men in civilian clothes, two of them wearing balaclavas and holstered weapons. The monitor was handcuffed and hooded before being asked to identify himself. Upon subsequently doing so, he was released with apologies. The men identified themselves as members of the State Security Services of Ukraine (SBU).
In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Proletarskyi (48km south of Luhansk), the SMM heard 12 explosions between 12:45 and 13:40hrs, emanating 10 to 15 kilometres to the south-west.
In the government-controlled towns of Kapitanove, Muratove, Hrechyshkyne, and Putylyne (all between 44 and 50km north-west of Luhansk), numerous local residents and Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM that the situation was calm. Local people, however, complained of a difficult socio-economic situation.
The SMM revisited three Ukrainian Armed Forces storage sites for heavy weapons and verified that all weapons previously registered were in situ, in compliance with the respective withdrawal lines. For the first time the SMM visited* eight “DPR” sites, the contents of which were also in compliance with the respective withdrawal lines. The “LPR” brought the SMM to a “tank depot” in Luhansk city. The tanks’ location is in compliance with the relevant withdrawal line. None of the signatories, however, has yet provided the SMM with baseline information that would enable the SMM to conduct systemic verification.
The SMM during the reporting period, however, observed the continued presence of heavy weapons in both the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In Horlivka, the SMM observed two T-72 main battle tanks exiting a chemical plant, where earlier in the day the SMM had been denied access by armed guards. In nearby “DPR”-controlled Yenakiieve (38km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed an additional two T-72 tanks. In “DPR”-controlled Michurine (64km south-south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed three T-72 tanks. At a road junction controlled by the “DPR” nine kilometres south of Donetsk, the SMM observed two stationary T-72 tanks. Close to government-controlled Kurakhove (41km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed an anti-tank guided missile on the turret of an armoured personnel carrier (APC). In “DPR”-controlled Makiivka* (12km north-east-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed three Ural military-type trucks loaded with green wooden boxes ordinarily used for the transportation of Grad multiple launch rocket system ammunition. In the eastern suburbs of Donetsk*, the SMM observed five armoured tracked vehicles mounted with Strela anti-aircraft missile systems. In “DPR”-controlled Yenakiieve* (38km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed two stationary self-propelled howitzers. Near government-controlled Muratove (50km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed one recovery tank and two APCs. Near government-controlled Smolianynove (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed four APCs each towing a 122mm artillery piece. In government-controlled Nyzhnie (75km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a stationary T-62 tank.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv 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 ceasefire 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:
- The SMM was stopped at two separate Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints near Volnovakha (47km south-south-west of Donetsk) and prevented from proceeding further, in one instance resulting in an inability to access the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launch site in nearby Valeryanivka. Another earlier SMM patrol was allowed through the checkpoint and allowed to access the launch site, but only after a 40 minute delay at the checkpoint.
- In “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk), the SMM was told by the “LPR” to return to an “LPR” checkpoint on the outskirts of the town, and was then held there for 20 minutes, for its own security, according to the “LPR”. Subsequently at an old factory in the town – where the SMM could observe two armoured personnel carriers inside the facility – the SMM was refused access by the “LPR”.