Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 3 April
This report is for the media and 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. The SMM monitored the situation around Shyrokyne and did not observe any weapons being fired, expect small arms fire directed at an unidentified UAV. The SMM monitored one heavy weapons holding area belonging to the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”), and four to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The SMM monitored ongoing fighting in the Donetsk region, in and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (8km north-west of Donetsk). Between 12:30 and 13:45hrs, while in the vicinity of the new terminal of Donetsk airport,* the SMM heard incoming and outgoing mortar, artillery, grenade launcher and heavy machine gun fire, with the sounds of this firing coming from a variety of locations. The SMM heard: six explosions, consistent with incoming artillery or mortar rounds (two exploded around 3km south-west and four around 2km north of the SMM position); four outgoing artillery or mortar rounds fired from 1-2km south of the SMM; two explosions consistent with incoming automatic grenade launcher fire, from an undetermined distance south-west of the SMM; three rounds of outgoing automatic grenade launcher fire from 500m north-west of the SMM; heavy machinegun fire (three bursts fired from around 500m north-east and one burst from 500m north-east of the SMM); and two bursts of heavy machinegun fire from 1km west of the SMM position.
Between 00:00 and 00:10hrs, from its position in the Voroshilovskyi district of Donetsk city centre (“DPR”-controlled), the SMM heard 30 incoming and outgoing explosions, approximately 5km north of the SMM position. The SMM could not ascertain the type of weapons that were used. Between 09:05 and 10:20hrs, while in the Kalininskyi district of Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 32 explosions, consistent with incoming and outgoing mortar and artillery rounds, around 5-10km north-west of the SMM position. The SMM assessed that these were the sounds of fighting in the vicinity of Donetsk airport.
At 13:00hrs, while monitoring Khartsyzk* (“DPR”-controlled, 23km east of Donetsk) the SMM heard two explosions north-west of its location. The SMM could not ascertain the type of weapons that caused the explosions, the distance, or if it was incoming or outgoing fire.
At 13:23hrs, while in Avdiivka (government-controlled, 14km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM visited the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) Observation Post (OP). While at the OP, the SMM witnessed an 82mm mortar round impact in an empty field 1km away from the SMM position. The mortar round exploded approximately 20m from a railroad track but there were no people or buildings close by, and the SMM saw no further incoming rounds.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation around Shyrokyne (16km east of Mariupol). In Bezimenne ("DPR"-controlled, 5km east of Shyrokyne, 30km east the Mariupol) the SMM attended a meeting on de-escalation measures. The meeting involved the Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, and Russian Federation Colonel-General, Representative of the Russian Federation Armed Forces to the JCCC, and the local commanders of the “DPR” and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The SMM did not observe any weapons being fired throughout the day from observation points near Sopyne (government-controlled, 4.5km northwest of Shyrokyne, 16km east of Mariupol) and Berdyanske (government-controlled, 2km west of Shyrokyne, 20km east from Mariupol). At 08:50hrs, while in Berdyanske, the SMM saw an unidentified unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying in the area from the east to the west; Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel fired small arms in the direction of UAV but did not hit it. The UAV left the area a few minutes after in a westerly direction.
Between 10:10 and 12:39hrs, the SMM UAV observed one Ukrainian Armed Forces armoured personnel carrier in an area near Shyrokyne that is under government control, and 15 “DPR” main battle tanks in areas around Shyrokyne that are under “DPR” control. In addition, to the north of Zaichenko (“DPR”-controlled, 10km north-east of Shyrokyne, 25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM UAV observed two destroyed main battle tanks.
The SMM assessed the overall situation in the Luhansk region to be calm. The SMM visited the government controlled villages of Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), Orikhove (75km north of Luhansk), Myrna Dolina (67km north-west of Luhansk) and Hirske (62km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM was told by several groups of interlocutors in these villages that the situation has been calm since the 15 February. Some villagers complained that the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance in fields nearby makes it dangerous for them to cultivate their plots of land.
While in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), as the SMM performed its monitoring duties, an unidentified person in a camouflage uniform, with no insignia, raised his rifle and aimed through his rifle scope towards the SMM patrol, from a distance of 30 meters; no shots were fired after this gesture and the SMM left the area.*
The SMM visited an “LPR” heavy weapons holding area. The SMM monitored the presence of 26 howitzers, and was told by the “LPR” commander at the weapons holding area that a further six howitzers were at an “LPR” firing range. This was the first time the SMM had visited this holding area. The visit by the SMM was pre-arranged with the “LPR”, who had escorted the SMM to the area.*
The SMM revisited four Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas and was able to verify that all heavy weapons previously recorded by the SMM were in situ.
In Odessa, on the evening of 2 April, the SMM monitored the monthly commemoration of events that took place in Odessa on 2 May 2014 at Kulykove Pole (see SMM Daily Report 2 May 2014). A group of approximately 70 anti-Maidan activists were gathered in front of the Trade Union building, mostly elderly, approximately 70 per cent female. They mourned those who had died and held speeches. Around 80 police officers formed a cordon around this group, separating them from pro-Maidan activists gathered 20 metres away. The pro-Maidan group was 70 strong, mostly aged under 40 and around 70 per cent male. About 20 of the pro-Maidan group wore camouflage clothes and/or balaclavas. Close to the gathering, the SMM also saw seven people with Right Sector insignia. Behind the Trade Union building there were two buses with riot police and patrol police on standby. There was chanting of slogans from both sides. The event remained orderly and the groups dispersed by 19:30hrs.
In Kyiv, on 2 April, the SMM monitored a public meeting in the Palace of Veterans for IDPs, organised by non-governmental organisations and individuals representing IDPs from Crimea and Donbas. Approximately 200 IDPs (male and female in equal numbers, aged 25 – 50) attended the public meeting, which was organised so as to allow them to pose questions to the Deputy Minister of Social Policy on the re-registration of IDPs, particularly after the Cabinet of Ministers Decree No 79 from 4 March had caused problems for some IDPs by requiring the registration of people who leave territories not under government control. The audience requested answers to their questions from the Deputy Minister of Social Policy.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, 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 the “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.
- The SMM requested access to villages in the area of “LPR”-controlled Ananivka (63km south-east of Luhansk), close to the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, but the Cossack’s escorting the SMM denied the SMM access, albeit in a friendly manner, explaining that these were their orders as received from the “LPR”.
The SMM were stopped and delayed at two Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints: the first was near government-controlled Kriakivka (47km northwest of Luhansk), where the SMM personnel were asked their nationalities by checkpoint personnel, before being allowed to pass; and next between government-controlled Kriakivka and Orikhove Donetske (44km and 38km northwest of Luhansk respectively), where the SMM was stopped by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and delayed for 15 minutes, before passing.