Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 10 May 2015
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by security considerations and in two instances through delayed access to heavy weapons holding areas*. SMM monitors came under machine gun fire from a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier in the Luhansk region. Heavy fighting was heard by the SMM in and around Shyrokyne on 10 May. Fighting around Donetsk airport continued, though at a reduced level compared with previous days. The SMM observed 9 May commemorations in many cities, some of which included displays of heavy weapons.
Fighting continued to be heard by the SMM in and around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) on both 9 and 10 May, with over 400 explosions heard on 10 May alone representing a significant deterioration compared with previous days. During the day the SMM heard outgoing mortars and incoming artillery. On 9 May the SMM, from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city-centre), heard 148 explosions and several bursts of small-arms fire. In the SMM’s assessment the majority of the explosions took place around government-controlled Pisky (15km west-north-west of Donetsk) and “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Spartak (10km north-west of Donetsk). The SMM recorded 89 explosions and several bursts of gunfire on 10 May from the JCCC observation post, occurring in areas between 3-7km south-west, west, north-west and north-east of their position. Both the Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General and Russian Federation Armed Forces Colonel-General at the JCCC headquarters (HQ) in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk) expressed concern that “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (36km north-east of Donetsk) had become a hotspot.
In Donetsk city the SMM monitored a 9 May commemoration. Thousands of people (males and females of all ages) watched about 400-500 men dressed in military-type uniforms – some ceremonial and some in combat fatigues – on parade, many of whom carried rifles.
The acting head doctor of the tuberculosis hospital in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city told the SMM that despite Presidential Decree 875/2014 and Cabinet of Ministers Resolution 595 (which saw relocation of State institutions to government-controlled territories and ceased funding to health institutions in “DPR”-controlled territories) they still co-operate with hospitals in government-controlled territories over patient transfers. The interlocutor said that the hospital received regular humanitarian aid from the Russian Federation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and others. According to the acting head, local pharmacies do not stock supplementary medicine they require.
Near government-controlled Nykyforivka (81km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM saw a firing range with evidence of self-propelled artillery systems and tank use in the vicinity. Residents told the SMM that such equipment was being used for training purposes at this location.
On 10 May an SMM patrol came under machine-gun fire in an area three kilometres west of government-controlled Krymske (43km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM team had exited their vehicles to observe nearby shelling. As the team re-entered their vehicles, approximately 3-5 long bursts from a modernized Kalashnikov machinegun (PKM) (7.62x54mm) impacted close by – some within two metres. The SMM suffered no injuries and left the area. The SMM assessed the fire as originating from 200 metres south-east of their location. During a follow-up meeting, the local Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander told the SMM that one of his soldiers accidentally opened fire “because they were not aware of the SMM’s arrival”, that the soldier acted nervously and attempted to fire “warning shots”. The commander apologized and promised full security for the SMM.
The SMM saw 9 May commemorations on both sides of the contact line in Luhansk. Approximately 5,000 people (both males and females, of all ages) attended a 9 May military-style parade by the “LPR” in Luhansk. In both government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk) and Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM observed celebrations on 9 May. About 1,000 people were in attendance at both locations.
On 10 May the SMM observed a training area on the boundary between the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in “LPR”-controlled territory. The SMM spoke with a “DPR” “commander” who informed the SMM that the training involved instruction of “DPR” members on military strategy. The SMM observed 50 “DPR” members undergoing training.
The SMM spoke to two elderly residents (one male, one female) in “LPR”-controlled Vodotok (30km south-east of Luhansk) who told them of the difficulties faced by the village’s 20-30 residents. The interlocutors said that pensions had not been paid since June 2014. They said they had never received any humanitarian aid, had no local medical services and required medication. The primary source of food was local farms. Although they had electricity, there was no gas supply and they drew water from village wells.
The SMM continued to visit heavy weapons holding areas. In government-controlled areas the SMM re-visited seven heavy weapons holding areas and noted that two multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) were missing at one location; four MLRS at another location; four 152mm towed howitzers absent from its previously recorded location; and two 152mm towed howitzers missing from a further location. All other weapons previously recorded at these sites were in situ, and in compliance with Minsk withdrawal lines. The SMM observed that some heavy weapons were recently moved (as evidenced by fresh mud on truck wheels and tracks visible in fields). At one location the SMM had to wait 30 minutes - forty minutes at another - before being given access*. On 9 May the SMM observed an “LPR” heavy weapons convoy returning from the parade held in Luhansk to the site where they were located prior to the parade. On 10 May the SMM observed these weapons being moved to holding areas that are compliant with Minsk withdrawal lines.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines on 9 and 10 May. In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed six main battle tanks (MBTs) (T72), three towed howitzers (D-30 122mm), three MLRS (BM-21 Grad 122mm), three howitzers (2S1 122mm self-propelled “Gvozdika”122mm), three anti-aircraft systems (Strela-10 120mm), and three towed howitzers (“Msta-B” 152mm). At another location in “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM saw two self-propelled “Gvozdika” (122mm) howitzers. In “LPR”-controlled areas the SMM saw self-propelled howitzers, towed howitzers, tanks, MLRS and anti-aircraft systems “Strela”. In government-controlled areas the SMM observed two MLRS BM-30 “Smerch” (300mm calibre), one MLRS BM-21 Grad (122mm calibre), four towed guns (possibly 130mm field guns M-46) and one anti-aircraft missile system “OSA-AK”. At other locations the SMM saw three MBTs (T-72), one truck towing a 122mm D-30 howitzer and two stationery trucks with two “Msta-B” 2A65 152mm howitzers attached.
The SMM Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) observed three Ukrainian Armed Forces artillery pieces (likely towed 152mm cannon) near the government-controlled village of Pionerske (13km east of Mariupol) firing eastward. Two hours later the UAV observed a house burning in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). Near Shyrokyne the UAV detected a “DPR” “base” with four small boats. In nearby “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), the UAV observed a previously seen “DPR” facility, with only three infantry fighting vehicles at this location. The three MBTs previously seen at this location (see SMM Daily Report, 7 May, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/156046) were no longer there.
The SMM monitored a 9 May commemoration at Dnepropetrovsk’s General Pushkin Tank Memorial and the nearby Glory Monument organized by the “Opposition Bloc,” the “Soviet Officers’ Union of Ukraine” and the “Anti-fascist Union.” Approximately 300 people of all ages, including numerous war veterans, were present. Many participants wore the St. George ribbon. At a second gathering in a nearby street, the “Commemoration Ceremony for the Anti-Terrorist Operation Heroes” organized by the “Country Defence Foundation”, 200 participants (mostly young and middle-aged men, some women) took part, many of whom wore the remembrance poppy. While the SMM observed heated individual discussions between participants of the opposing rallies, the overall atmosphere was peaceful. The SMM saw around 100 police officers, some wearing riot gear.
In Kherson the SMM estimated that 10,000-15,000 persons were gathered in the Park of Glory for 9 May commemorations. Representatives of Pravyy Sektor (Right Sector) and the Samooborona group were in attendance, though without flags and banners following an agreement between the governor, political parties, and local community representatives on abstaining from displays of political insignia during the commemorations. The SMM observed some of the estimated 700-800 police present ordering citizens wearing the St. George ribbons to remove them.
On 9 May at Cathedral Square in Chernivtsi, the SMM observed a peaceful commemoration at the war memorial attended by approximately 550 people (mostly men aged over 50 years old). Thirty police were present.
The SMM monitored the laying of wreaths at the Hill of Glory memorial in Lviv on 9 May. Dozens of citizens and war veterans attended. Approximately 200 police officers secured the area, including 30 riot police, together with activists from self-defence groups and the Svoboda party. The SMM observed an isolated incident when Svoboda activists removed a St. George ribbon from an elderly man and burnt it.
Official commemorative events in Kyiv on 8 May were closed to the public. On 9 May tens of thousands of people gathered in Kyiv to commemorate war veterans. Government officials, members of political parties and citizens laid flowers at monuments in Glory Park and at the World War II museum. Large numbers of law enforcement were present, both uniformed and plainclothes police officers, at all public gatherings. At least four separate groups, numbering from 10-40 people (mainly pensioners, most of whom were female) carried flags and posters associated with the Communist Party to Glory Park. The groups were protected by several rings of law enforcement officers. One group was blocked by 3-4 young men near the park. The police kept the two sides apart and the group was able to proceed. Another group carrying two communist flags were confronted by approximately 10 men (aged between 20-35 years of age) in irregular military uniforms who tore the flags out of their hands.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Odessa, and Ivano-Frankivsk.
* 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.
- At two government-controlled heavy weapons holding areas the SMM were told to wait 30 minutes and 40 minutes respectively before being given access.
 These weapons were observed at the 9 May Donetsk city parade.
 These weapons were observed at the 9 May Luhansk city parade.
 These weapons were observed at the 9 May commemoration in Sievierodonetsk.