Spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine on the escalation of the situation in Shyrokyne and SMM aggressively treated at “DPR” checkpoint at Shyrokyne, 28 March 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
On 27 March, the SMM observed from an observation point in the vicinity of Berdianske (government-controlled, 18km east of Mariupol) escalating fighting in Shyrokyne (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 20km east of Mariupol, 102 km south of Donetsk) counting over 225 mortar shells from 14:40hrs to 17:15hrs. The shelling had started only a few hours following an SMM visit to the “DPR” “command” in Shyrokyne.
From its position the SMM estimated that the shells were fired from a position of the Ukrainian Armed Forces located in Berdianske. The SMM assessed that the majority of these outgoing shells impacted on the southern part of the Shyrokyne village, controlled by “DPR”. About 20 mortar shells were observed to have been fired back from the area controlled by “DPR”.
When the SMM departed at 17:15hrs the fire continued in a similar intensity. According to Ukrainian and Russian Federation representatives at the Joint Centre for Control and Co- ordination (JCCC) in Bezimenne (government-controlled, 28km east of Mariupol), as well as contacts within the community of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Shyrokyne present in Mariupol, shelling had continued until 18:35hrs on 27 March. According to the JCCC representatives, sporadic small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire continued in the village until approximately 20:40hrs.
On 28 March, at approximately 10:45hrs the SMM en route to Novoazovsk (“DPR”- controlled, 45km east of Mariupol) was halted at a “DPR” roadblock at the northern edge of Shyrokyne. A “DPR” fighter at the roadblock approached the SMM in a hostile way and ordered the SMM to depart the scene immediately. The “DPR” fighter was handling his weapon in a manner demonstrating to SMM that he would have no hesitation to use it.
The same aggressive attitude had been displayed towards SMM during a visit to Shyrokyne on the previous day, when the “DPR” “commander” told the SMM that it would need a “DPR” escort when entering their territory (see SMM Daily report of 27 March, issued on 28 March). While the SMM turned around its vehicles to leave the roadblock, the “DPR” fighter fired three shots into the air. The SMM arrived safely to Mariupol at 12:05hrs.