Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 12 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 third parties and security considerations*. The SMM observed fighting continued around Shyrokyne and Donetsk airport. The SMM continued to visit heavy weapons holding areas, and noted that some weapons had been removed.
The SMM continued to observe ceasefire violations in the hotspots of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) and surrounding areas, and in and around Donetsk airport. Shyrokyne remained tense with sporadic small-arms and mortar fire heard by the SMM from their position at government-controlled Berdianske (2.5km west of Shyrokyne). In government-controlled Luhanske (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 50 explosions from incoming heavy artillery (152mm calibre). In the Luhansk region the SMM heard four explosions emanating from government-controlled Toshkivka (57km north-west of Luhansk).
The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north of Donetsk), expressed concern to the SMM over the deaths of four Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers in the last 24 hours. According to him, three died in the area of Donetsk airport, with one fatality in the area of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). This information was corroborated by the Russian Colonel-General, Representative of the Russian Federation Armed Forces to the JCCC.
The SMM went to “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (37km north-northeast of Donetsk) to observe damage caused by shelling on 7 May. The SMM saw damage to a kindergarten (broken windows and a destroyed entrance). JCCC representatives from the Horlivka office - both Russian Federation Armed Forces and Ukrainian Armed Forces officers - and local residents said one projectile exploded in the yard of the kindergarten on 7 May and caused no injuries. The impact area was repaired, making crater analysis impossible. The SMM was however, able to determine that artillery was used. At a second impact area, 300 metres from the kindergarten, damage was observed by the SMM in a residential area. Crater analysis was not possible as the impact area was repaired. No causalities were reported.
In government-controlled Kramatorsk (80km north of Donetsk) the SMM met a representative of the non-governmental organization (NGO) SOS (affiliated to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) that assists internally displaced persons (IDPs) with food and financial support. According to the representative, at the end of April, approximately 1,500 non-registered IDPs arrived from “DPR”-controlled Horlivka.
At the village council building in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a protest against the ban (according to the Aidar volunteer battalion commander at the bridge, the result of a directive from the Governor) on crossing the bridge between government-controlled and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled areas (see SMM Daily Report 5 May 2015, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/155346). A crowd of approximately 200 people (70% of whom were women, mostly middle-aged) took part. Protesters told the SMM that around half of local residents work in “LPR”-controlled areas, most at the psychiatric hospital near Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), just three kilometres from the bridge, and find it difficult to reach their place of work due to the ban. Employees are forced to make a long detour to reach their place of work.
The SMM spoke with residents of two villages near the contact line in “LPR”-controlled areas. Two middle-aged residents (one man, one woman) in Obozne (18km north of Luhansk) told the SMM that they have had no electricity since shelling damaged the local power station in April. The same power station also supplied energy to nearby Khrystove (18km north of Luhansk). A woman in this village confirmed that residents are also without electricity.
The SMM continued to visit heavy weapons holding areas. In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM saw three heavy weapons holding areas. At one location six Grad systems were missing. The “DPR” “commander” told the SMM that the weapons were removed for training purposes. At a second site, four of six self-propelled Howitzers (2S1, 152mm calibre) were removed - according to persons at the site - for training. On the other hand, the SMM located seven mortar systems (120mm) at this site that had not been noted previously. At a third location, all weapons previously recorded were in situ. The SMM made return visits to two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas. At one location the SMM was denied access by Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers, because the commander was not present. The SMM had previously attempted to access this site on 7 May (see SMM Daily Report, 8 May, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/156046) but was denied, with the same reason given.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM saw four tanks (T-72). In areas under the control of the “LPR”, the SMM saw four tanks. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw six tanks (five T-64s, one T-72) and one 122mm towed howitzer gun.
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) (previously reported in SMM Daily Report, 11 May, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/156416). More than 20 boxes of ammunition were at the site.
The SMM monitored a demonstration in Kherson held in front of city hall and a subsequent meeting inside the building by protestors calling for the ouster of some officials. About eighty protestors (mainly middle-aged, both men and women) including inter alia representatives of Pravyy Sektor (Right Sector), the Radical Party and the Ukrainian Republican Party, called for the dismissal of the city’s deputy mayors for their alleged inability to prevent the display of Communist Party and Opposition Bloc symbols during a 9 May commemorative event. An agreement had been reached between the governor, political parties and activists to abstain from displaying political symbols (see SMM Daily Report, 11 May 2015, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/156416).
The SMM observed a protest outside the building of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine in Kyiv of mothers, wives and daughters of soldiers from the Kyiv Rus 11th Ukrainian Armed Forces battalion. The protestors demanded rotation of the aforementioned battalion. According to them, there is no sign that the planned 15 May rotation of the battalion will take place. Twenty women (between the ages of 20 and 50) took part. Four members of the battalion itself were present. Five male police officers observed.
The SMM observed a discussion at the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) on a proposal to allow foreigners to sign contracts with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence in order to join the Ukrainian Armed Forces. After discussion, and despite some dissenting voices, the Parliament passed the measure.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Chernivtsi, 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.
- The SMM was stopped at a Ukrainian Armed Forces-controlled checkpoint in Vilkhove (22km north-east of Luhansk) and asked for a password. The SMM was unable to provide a password and was not allowed to proceed.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Novohnativka (41km south-south-east of Donetsk) the SMM was told to take a military vehicle escort because of security concerns. The SMM was escorted by a military truck up to the junction with Buhas (41km south-east of Donetsk).
- The SMM were stopped for 30 minutes at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Vynohradne (10km east of Mariupol) as personnel present said the vehicles displayed the “wrong plate numbers”.