Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 3 May 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*. Three security incidents involved the SMM in Donetsk region. The SMM monitored the commemoration of the events that took place in Odessa on 2 May 2014.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations observed by the SMM, please see the annexed table https://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/154926?download=true:
The SMM continued to observe ceasefire violations in and around Donetsk airport, and near Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). 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), the SMM heard over the reporting period a total of 698 explosions reaching a peak on 2 May between 12:45 and 17:00hrs (271 explosions). This represents a small increase in comparison with the number of violations reported on 1 May. The weapons used included heavy mortars and artillery, heavy machineguns, small arms and main battle tanks (MBT). On 2 May, at the JCCC Observation Post (OP), at Donetsk railway station, the SMM was informed that local ceasefires around Donetsk airport were arranged four times during the afternoon by the JCCC, without success. Another attempt by the JCCC OP at Donetsk railway station to reach a ceasefire at Donetsk airport took place on 3 May but also failed. In Luhansk region, the SMM heard on 3 May five outgoing artillery shots in the area of government-controlled Komyshuvakha (62km west of Luhansk).
On 2 May the SMM were involved in three security incidents. While in government-controlled Pisky (13km north-west of Donetsk), four 82mm mortar shells hit a sandy embankment in close proximity to the SMM. The SMM left the site unharmed as soon as the situation allowed it. Shortly afterwards, while at the JCCC base in government-controlled Avdiivka (14km north-west of Donetsk), the same SMM team heard 152mm artillery shelling closing in. The SMM took cover in a nearby underground shelter and was only able to depart from the location following the implementation of a five-minute local ceasefire. The SMM patrol did not sustain casualties. While travelling eastward to Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), a SMM vehicle was hit by a bullet from a small arms burst originating from the north-west of the SMM’s position. (See SMM Spot Report, 3 May 2015, Four incidents involving the SMM within last 36 hours, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/154786)
On 2 May, the SMM was informed by the Ukrainian Major General in JCCC headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk) that the JCCC is working on a recruitment process to get observation posts operational 24/7. On 3 May, the Russian Federation Colonel-General presented the SMM with signed hard copies of an alternative proposal regarding the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Shyrokyne and the withdrawal of tanks, tubed artillery of less than 100mm calibre and mortars up to 85mm calibre. The Ukrainian Major-General informed the SMM that the proposals had been dispatched to Kyiv the previous evening.
On 2 May the SMM was informed by a female staff member of the railway company at Debaltseve (56km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled) railway station that the station is operational with both passenger and freight trains passing through. She said passenger trains run between Luhansk and “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (14km north of Donetsk) and freight trains, often transporting coal, run between Luhansk and government-controlled Dniprodzerzhynsk (33km west of Dnepropetrovsk).
On 2 May, the Ukraine Armed Forces checkpoint commander in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) informed the SMM that he received an order not to allow pedestrians to cross the bridge from 1 until 15 May. This was confirmed by members of the Aidar volunteer battalion at the checkpoint close to the Trokhizbenka bridge. On 3 May the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) member of the checkpoint south of the Trokhizbenka bridge pleaded with the SMM for the reopening of the bridge to civilians and stressed that all the medical staff of the local hospital in “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) live on the government-controlled side and cannot cross the bridge to go to work. Both Aidar volunteer battalion commanders and “LPR” members expressed a willingness to establish a communication mechanism to defuse tensions on or around the Trokhizbenka bridge following recent fighting.
The freedom of movement for civilians between government and “LPR”-controlled areas on Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) bridge remains an issue. On 2 May, the SMM saw one car transporting a large amount of flowers for the 9 May parade in Luhansk city being denied approach to the bridge. Government-controlled checkpoint personnel informed the SMM that this person, who wanted to handover the flowers to a business partner living on the “LPR” side, was denied crossing the bridge in order to prevent people from conducting business across the contact line. The SMM was also informed by a female civilian (approximately 50 years old) that she had her passport taken at the government-controlled checkpoint prior crossing to the “LPR.” The SMM met with the Ukrainian Armed Forces regional commander in Stanytsia Luhanska who stated that he had ordered his personnel to retain the passports of Ukrainian citizens in order to control people who carry foodstuffs, cleaning material, and other items across the bridge with the purpose of preventing trading activities between government-controlled and “LPR”-controlled territory. (See SMM Daily Report 27 April 2015, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/153916)
On 2 May, the SMM observed that military exercises are no longer taking place in the vicinity of “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (27km south-west of Luhansk). Apart from two military trucks and one commando tent remaining in the field, the SMM did not observe any military vehicles. (See SMM daily report 28 April 2015, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/154341).
On 2 and 3 May, the SMM conducted two patrols to check the area where heavy weapons are being prepared (repainted and repaired) for an “LPR” parade to be held on 9 May in Luhansk city. On both patrols, the SMM recorded no changes on the number and type of heavy weapons reported compared to previous reports (see SMM daily reports 27 April 2015). On 2 and 3 May, the SMM also visited three heavy weapons holding areas on “DPR”-controlled territory at which the SMM observed that the weapons previously recorded remained in situ. On arrival at a fourth “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, there was neither equipment nor “DPR” members present. Two residents who live across the street from the holding area reported that the equipment was moved out around 20 April. The SMM revisited six heavy weapons holding areas on government-controlled territory and observed that in four of them some of the heavy weapons previously recorded were not present. The guards present at these areas informed the SMM that the missing heavy weapons were undergoing maintenance.
Despite claims that withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons in areas non-compliant with the withdrawal lines. On 2 and 3 May the SMM observed, in “DPR”-controlled territory, five Ural trucks towing four 120mm mortars, two Msta-b howitzers (152mm), three D30 howitzers (120mm), three main battle tanks (MBT) T-72 and two MBTs T-64. In government-controlled territory, four stationary MBTs T-64 and two parked 122mm self-propelled guns were seen by the SMM. The SMM Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) team observed on 2 May two MBTs and three unspecified artillery pieces on “DPR”-controlled territory.
On 2 May, SMM monitored events at Kulykove Pole and Cathedral Square in Odessa commemorating those who lost their lives during the events of 2 May 2014. The police had cordoned off Kulykove Pole with plastic tape and erected metal detectors through which all people entering Kulykove Pole were required to pass. The SMM estimated the number of participants in the range of 1500-2500 individuals. The SMM observed two individuals being carried away from Kulykove Pole by the police. A police lieutenant-colonel informed the SMM that the men were harassing people. The SMM observed no other incidents. The SMM also monitored the commemoration event of pro-Maidan organisations at Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square devoted to the commemoration of the same event of 2 May 2014. The venue was guarded by about 200 officers from different police units. The SMM also observed more riot police in reserve in three trucks and eight buses parked near the square. About 350 camouflaged members of pro-Maidan self-defence groups, Pravyy Sektor, as well as Auto-Maidan were present. In addition to the camouflaged activists, the event was attended by about 300 people of mixed age and gender. The overall situation was peaceful.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, 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 cease-fire does not hold everywhere.
- On 3 May, at 10:00hrs, the SMM was denied access to the Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) bridge by Ukrainian armed forces personnel at the last checkpoint north of the bridge. Soldiers told the SMM that passage was denied due to the security situation in the area. The SMM returned to the area in the afternoon and was granted access to the bridge.
- On 2 May, at the “DPR” checkpoint at the entrance of Debaltseve (56km north-east of Donetsk, “DPR”-controlled), the SMM was ordered to wait for 20 minutes until a “DPR” escort arrived to accompany them. The “DPR”-checkpoint personnel explained the escort was required for the SMM’s own safety given the proximity to the contact line to the west, and sporadic but on-going fighting in the area. The checkpoint personnel said that, with an escort, the SMM was still free to patrol but that the area west of the town towards the contact line was off limits.
- At the “DPR” checkpoint at the entrance of Krasnyi Oktyabr (“DPR”-controlled, 57km south-south-east of Donetsk), the SMM had to wait for 15 minutes and was only allowed to proceed with a “DPR” escort. “DPR” members explained that this policy was for the SMM’s own safety, given the on-going fighting and insecurity in the area.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations observed by the SMM, please see the annexed table https://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/154926?download=true.