Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 28 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”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*. Fighting continued around Donetsk airport and Shyrokyne. The SMM observed military movement on both sides of the contact line.
While at the observation post of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) at the Donetsk railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk), between 08:00 and 13:30hrs, the SMM heard 146 explosions, heavy machinegun and small arms fire from the west, south-west, north, north-west, south and north-east in a distance of 2,5-10km of position. The SMM assessed that at least 75 per cent of all the explosions were caused by 82mm and 120mm mortar fire.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). On 27 April, while at the observation post located at 4km north-west of Shyrokyne the SMM heard intensive artillery fire north of its position. While at another observation post located at 1,5km west of Shyrokyne, the SMM heard 11 explosions, outgoing mortar fire north-west, and two explosions north-east of its position. In the afternoon of 28 April, the SMM heard unidentified explosions as well as small arms fire in the area of Shyrokyne.
The SMM gained access to Staromarivka (controlled by neither side, 46km north-east of Mariupol) for the first time and crossed the Kalmius river over the remnants of the partially destroyed bridge to neighbouring Hranitne (government-controlled, 47km north-east of Mariupol) located on the west side of the river. Local residents told the SMM that out of 370 inhabitants, 80 people are still living in the village. The SMM observed craters and damages to houses which, residents said, occurred on 24 April at 01:40hrs. The SMM conducted crater analyses and assessed that two 122mm artillery shells had been fired from a the west-north-west and nine 82mm mortar shells fired from the easterly direction. Residents told the SMM that the village lacked electricity and water. Some villagers told the SMM that they received pensions by the “DPR” in Russian roubles.
The SMM conducted analyses of fresh crater in the “DPR”-controlled villages of Leninske, Sakhana and Dzerzhynske (22, 23 and 24km north-east of Mariupol). In Leninske, the SMM assessed that six 82mm and three 120mm mortar shells had been fired from the south-east. In Sakhana, the SMM assessed that fourteen 82mm and three 120mm mortar shells had been fired from the south-east. In Dzerzhynske, the SMM assessed that three 120mm mortar shells had been fired from the south-east.
The SMM visited the “republic scientific teaching traumatology centre” in Donetsk city, which is the main emergency response centre for trauma injuries for civilians and “DPR” members alike. The deputy director said to the SMM that the centre admitted 2,516 patients, among which 81 children, wounded by shelling between July 2014 and February 2015 including 633 severe injuries.
While in the local market in Bugas (government-controlled, 46km south-south-west of Donetsk), several people, women and men of different ages, expressed their concern and frustrations to the SMM over the procedures at the Ukrainian Armed Forces policies for crossing the contact line at the checkpoint in Volnovakha (government-controlled, 52km south-south-west of Donetsk), which they consistently described as arbitrary.
While at the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 77km north of Donetsk), the SMM observed that the Russian Colonel-General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the JCCC and the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC and members of “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) were present. The Ukrainian Major-General expressed concern over the escalation of shelling by the “DPR” over the past 24 hours in Avdiivka (government-controlled, 16km north-west of Donetsk) and said to the SMM that one soldier had been killed and 14 seriously injured as a result. The Russian Colonel-General stated that both sides were using heavy weapons.
The SMM met JCCC representatives at their office in Avdiivka who informed that on 27 April following the departure of the SMM from the observation post, there was continuing 120mm mortar shelling impacting near the Radio Location Station, assumed by the JCCC to be originating from Donetsk airport. At 18:55hrs, the JCCC jointly recorded eight Grad missiles impacting 2.5km south of Avdiivka from Yasynuvata (“DPR”-controlled, 12km north-east of Donetsk) and at 19:35hrs three 120mm mortar rounds impacting in Opytne (government-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk). Whilst at the JCCC observation post in Avdiivka the SMM heard three explosions (mortar, 122mm) 1-3km south of its location.
In Artemove (government-controlled, 40km north of Donetsk) the SMM conducted a crater analysis on a site on Kaspiskaia Street, which the head of the local administration said was shelled on 26 April at around 12:00hrs. The SMM concluded that the single round shelling was likely a 82mm mortar shell fired from the east.
The SMM met the Chief Judge of the Primorskyi raion court in Mariupol who explained that the court had recently conducted hearings for several families of internally displaced persons (IDP) originating from Donetsk who had been denied government benefits because of insufficient documentation regarding their identity and IDP status. The court had reversed the government's decision and ordered the payment of benefits to these families.
The SMM met the “head” of the “village council” in Donetskyi (“LPR”-controlled, 50km north-west of Luhansk) who said that water had run dry in most of the wells forcing people to collect water at the Luganka river. He also said that nearly 90 per cent of the houses had suffered damages from shelling and that children of the village were home schooled given the lack of transport to the nearest school in Kirovsk (“LPR”-controlled, 50km north-west of Luhansk).
In Toshkivka (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed excavation of trenches 200 meters from the main P-66 road. A member of the local administration present at the site said to the SMM that there were tensions with some residents who opposed the military constructions but that they had been resolved peacefully.
In Krasnyi Luch (“LPR”-controlled, 55km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM met the “deputy chief” of the “public security service” who said that the local “LPR” “police station” had been established in September 2014 and that out of the 150 pre-conflict officers 28 had chosen to continue their work under the ”LPR”.
The SMM revisited one “DPR” heavy weapons holding area and was able to verify that all weapons previously recorded as present by the SMM were on site.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was completed, the SMM continued to observe the presence of heavy weapons. In “LPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed three howitzer D-30 (122mm) towed by trucks and another one stationary. In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed one tank (T-64) and one anti-tank gun (100mm). In government-controlled areas the SMM observed eight tanks (T-64). The SMM also observed that military exercises are taking place in the vicinity of Uspenka (“LPR”-controlled, 27km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) monitored the area around and north of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). The area of Sopyne (government-controlled, 16km east of Mariupol) was observed as calm. The UAV observed one main battle tank in Talakivka (government-controlled, 17km north-east of Mariupol).
An intercity train with SMM staff on board traveling from Kharkiv to Kyiv derailed at Lyubotyn (20km south-west of Kharkiv). No explosion was heard and the train was going at a slow speed in the area when it left the track. No carriages were overturned and the train stayed upright on the tracks. The ministry of internal affairs established the cause of the incident, which caused no injuries, to be technical failure.
The SMM observed the first press conference of the new head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional administration during which he stressed that security was currently the single most important priority for the region. He explained that out of the UAH 120 million earmarked for security enhancement UAH 39 million had already been allocated for fortifications and 49 sites are currently under construction. He said he would also prioritise the disarmament of illegal armed formations and their integration into formal structures.
On 26 April, the SMM monitored a gathering of around 400 people in Lviv, mostly men aged between 50 and 70, commemorating the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe.
On 27 April, the SMM monitored one protest in Lviv, which started in front of the Russian Federation consulate and attended by some 100 people, men and women of different ages representing various organizations who expressed their opposition to the alleged engagement of the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine. The protestors moved to the building of the regional prosecutor and were joined by an additional 150 people. At this gathering the crowd voiced concerns regarding alleged corruption in the prosecutor’s office. The protestors then marched to the Lviv city council where they expressed dissatisfaction regarding the alleged allocation of 27 flats to prosecutors and demanded an explanation for why these flats were not allocated to former servicepersons and asked to speak to the mayor who did not come out to address the crowd. Ten police officers were present at these events, which ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi 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.
- The SMM attempted to visit Bogdanivka and Staronahtivka (government-controlled, 51km south of Donetsk) but at Mykolaivka (government-controlled, 67km south of Donetsk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel did not allow the SMM to continue in that direction), claiming on-going shelling as well as the need for a special clearance by the commander in Volnovakha. When the SMM made a second attempt to enter Mykolaivka at the town’s northern entrance it was again denied access without explanation by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel. While at this checkpoint the SMM heard and saw two outgoing rounds of tank fire 400m from the SMM position following which it returned to its base.
- The SMM was stopped and delayed for 10 minutes at a “DPR” checkpoint in Donetsk city due to patrolling without escort.
- The SMM was stopped and delayed for 25 minutes at the last “DPR” checkpoint before the bridge over the river Kalmius near government-controlled Hranitne (government-controlled, 57km south of Donetsk). The SMM was allowed to proceed after the “DPR” checkpoint “commander” was given clearance over the phone by his supervisor.