Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 7 April 2015
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” which was restricted by third parties and by security considerations*. The SMM observed an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region, especially around Donetsk airport. The SMM monitored the situation in the area of Shyrokyne and assessed the security situation as remaining tense. The SMM monitored five heavy weapons holding areas belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In Luhansk region, the SMM observed the security situation to be relatively calm.
(* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.)
The SMM continued to monitor in the Donetsk region and observed a general increase in the number of ceasefire violations. While at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at the Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk, Donetsk People’s Republic (“DPR”)-controlled), between 10:25 and 12:15hrs, the SMM heard sounds of 132 explosions, heavy-machine gun and small-arms fire originating from the west-north-west, north-west, north and north-north-east directions at a distance of 2-5km from the SMM’s position.
At 11:10hrs and 11:25hrs, while in the Kalininskyi district of Donetsk city, the SMM heard two bursts of small-arms fire from undetermined distance south-east of the SMM’s position. From 15:00 to 15:03hrs while in front of Park Inn Hotel, the SMM heard eight explosions of undetermined origin south of its position. While in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-south-east of Donetsk), between 11:38 and 12:30hrs, the SMM heard continuous distant artillery fire south-west of its position.
While in government-controlled Mironivskyi (56km north-east of Donetsk), between 10:00 and 10:30hrs, the SMM heard 20 incoming explosions estimated to be the result of 122mm GRAD impacts, and three incoming 120mm mortar explosions, at a distance of about 2-5km north-north-east of its position. While in government-controlled Maiorsk (41km north of Donetsk), between 10:25 and 10:50hrs, the SMM heard 10 incoming explosions estimated to be mortar about 3km south-east of its position. In addition, the SMM heard the sounds of two outgoing shots, consistent with a 23mm anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) originating 200m south-east of its position. Between 10:50 and 11:00hrs, the SMM heard approximately 20-25 incoming explosions at a distance of approximately 10km south-east of its position, estimated to be self-propelled howitzers (122mm or 120mm mortar). In the latter case, the SMM could not ascertain the origin of the fire.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation around Shyrokyne (16km east of Mariupol, 99km south of Donetsk). From an observation point located in the eastern outskirts of Berdianske (19km east of Mariupol, 1.5km west of Shyrokyne), between 09:00 and 10:45hrs, the SMM heard sounds consistent with three tank shots and sporadic small-arms fire, originating 2km east of the SMM’s position. The SMM could not ascertain the direction of the fire. Later, the SMM observed two Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers placing minefield warning signs in the area where an accident had recently occurred (SMM Daily Report 6 April 2015).
While travelling through the northern edge of Shyrokyne on the highway E-58, the SMM reached a “DPR”-controlled roadblock. When the SMM approached it on foot, a patrol member immediately encountered shots of heavy machine gun fire to his right, and semi-automatic rifle fire to his left (SMM Spot Report, 7 April 2015, “DPR” member opened fired towards an SMM patrol on the outskirts of Shyrokyne). After negotiating passage, the SMM continued unescorted to “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (43km east of Mariupol) and eventually reached the border crossing point to the Russian Federation. On its way back, the SMM observed a large fresh crater located at the junction between “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (95km south of Donetsk) with the highway E-58. The SMM performed a crater analysis and concluded that it was the result of 152mm artillery shell impact, originating from north-north-west.
The SMM assessed the overall situation in the Luhansk region to be calm. In a location (neither government-controlled nor “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled) close to Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM attended a meeting between the “Tornado” volunteer battalion liaison officer and the “LPR” “commander”. They discussed a possible future co-operation to support the ongoing reconstruction of a destroyed bridge. The SMM observed a steady flow of civilians, both men and women, including several elderly persons, crossing the bridge by foot in both directions.
The SMM visited government-controlled Katerynivka (62km west of Luhansk) and spoke to several local residents, men and women, who claimed to be prevented from passing through the government-controlled checkpoints located at both entrances of the village, for several weeks. Additionally, there is no public transport servicing the area and thus, pensioners cannot travel to collect their allowances, children cannot attend school and there is no access to healthcare and food supplies. Therefore, local residents attempt to travel using alternative roads where unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and landmines are present. The SMM observed the wreckage of a civilian car, located 2km from Katerynivka, on the road that connects the village with government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). According to local citizens, the car had hit a mine while attempting to go off the paved road; an adult and a child were inside and both survived although the adult was injured.
The SMM observed ten tanks and six infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-2) stationary in a field near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM also observed two towed howitzers (152mm) in the area of “LPR”-controlled Perevalsk (40km south-west of Luhansk) which were being transported, towards the north, in the direction of Mykhailivka (“LPR”-controlled, 31km west of Luhansk). The SMM was unable to verify their final destination. In the vicinity of government-controlled Zolote (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw two tanks (T-64) placed inside trenches.
The SMM visited a centre for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Luhansk city. Currently, 36 IDPs, including nine children are living there, originating from different areas of the Lugansk region. The building has running water, heating and electricity. The SMM spoke to a group of IDPs who stated that they do not receive any financial support and in case of need they have to pay for healthcare and medicines. They further said that food supplies are only provided by the Taras Shevchenko University in Luhansk but not regularly.
The SMM visited five Ukrainian Armed Forces holding areas for heavy weapons. At all the locations, the SMM could verify that all weapons were in situ. All the locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines.
In Kharkiv, the SMM visited the site of an explosion which took place in the city centre; according to the police the explosion happened at approximately 03:00hrs. The SMM observed the base of a metal tube flagpole in which the Ukrainian flag was raised in front of the Court of Appeal building, to be damaged. No casualties were reported. The SMM observed further damage to the nearby infrastructure, mainly shattered windows in the buildings of the Court of Appeal and local hospital. The police are investigating the incident as a terrorist act.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kyiv, Odessa, 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 was stopped at two government-controlled checkpoints; one located in the vicinity of Makarove (19km north-east of Luhansk) and the second in the outskirts of Stanytsia (16km north-east of Luhansk). In both instances, the SMM was inquired about their nationalities. Additionally, at the second checkpoint the SMM’s vehicles were searched. The SMM was eventually allowed to proceed, after 15 minutes.
- At 12:40hrs, at the government-controlled checkpoint located near Raihorodka (government-controlled 34km north-west of Luhansk), the commander confiscated the expired Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) diplomatic card of an SMMU monitor. The commander stated that the expired diplomatic card was not valid. The commander did not allow any further discussions but was not hostile. After 10 minutes, the SMM could proceed.
- While travelling through the northern edge of Shyrokyne on the highway E-58, the SMM reached a “DPR”-controlled roadblock. When the SMM approached it on foot, a patrol member immediately encountered warning shots of heavy machine gun fire to his right, and semi-automatic rifle fire to his left (SMM Spot Report “DPR” member opened fired towards an SMM patrol on the outskirts of Shyrokyne).
- When the SMM was approaching Zaichenko (“DPR”-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol), it encountered a roadblock manned by two “DPR” fighters who called their “commander”. After 15 minutes he arrived and stated that the SMM could not proceed.