Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 14 May 2015
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. In Shyrokyne, the SMM observed a decrease in the intensity of the fighting. The SMM visited a Right Sector camp in the Dnepropetrovsk region.
In the area around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the SMM observed a decrease in the intensity of the fighting compared to the previous day; around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 11km north-west of Donetsk) the SMM noted that the situation remained tense, with fighting continuing throughout the day, despite attempts made by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) officers to negotiate a localized ceasefire.
In “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (45km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed movement of military-type transport trucks, in particular Ural and Kamaz. At the railway station, a worker told the SMM that the railway tracks had been repaired between Yasynuvata (“DPR”-controlled, 14km north-east of Donetsk) and Luhansk. The railway track had been damaged during the most intense phase of the conflict around Debaltseve between January and February. He also said that three days a week passenger trains depart to Luhansk, and three days a week trains arrive from there.
At a “DPR” distribution centre for humanitarian aid in Makiivka (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM met with the “DPR” co-ordinator for humanitarian assistance. He told the SMM that more than 100 trucks with about 1,200 tons of Russian Federation humanitarian aid had crossed the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on 14 May.
In an area close to the border crossing point at Uspenka (“DPR”-controlled, 96km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed white-painted trucks bearing inscriptions “Humanitarian Aid from the Russian Federation” heading to the Russian Federation, towards the Uspenka/Matveev Kurgan border crossing point, totalling forty-nine trucks plus one recovery truck.
The SMM visited Sakhanka (“DPR”-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol) amid significant presence of press and media representatives from the Russian Federation – approximately 30 individuals – and a group of 20 to 30 local residents, mainly middle aged and elderly women, who said that shelling had occurred on 12 and 13 May. The Russian Federation Armed Forces Colonel-General to the JCCC was also present in Sakhanka. The SMM analysed five craters, four located in fields adjacent to the village and one in the garden of a damaged house. In the SMM’s assessment, in four cases the craters resulted from 120mm mortars, and in one case from an 82mm mortar, all fired from a westerly direction. The SMM also travelled to Shyrokyne and spoke with a number of local residents who reported shelling on 13 May in the late afternoon. In the village, the SMM observed increased destruction of civilian infrastructure and private houses.
On 13 May, the Cossack ataman in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk) informed the SMM that all border crossing points between Ukraine and the Russian Federation had been handed over to the “LPR” “border guards”. The SMM discussed with the ataman issues concerning access to the border zone According to the interlocutor, the SMM would be able to travel into the inner border zone (15km from the border) but would not be allowed into the 1-2km area near the “LPR”-controlled segment of the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
On 14 May, the SMM visited two apartment blocks close to the “LPR” checkpoint in Molodizhne (62km west of Luhansk) and spoke with a middle aged woman who told the SMM that approximately 25 people – including herself – have lived for over nine months in basements, protecting themselves from heavy shelling, especially in the period between 10 January and 20 February. The interlocutor also informed the SMM that currently 40 to 50 people live in the town. The SMM visited some private houses and talked with the mother of a boy – less than 10 years old – who has epileptic syndrome and is blind. The interlocutor stated that administratively Molodizhne belongs to nearby government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), but because of difficulties, including in getting permits as required by temporary Order 144 to cross the contact line to go to Popasna, they cannot receive social payments there.
On 14 May, from 09:30 to 09:50hrs, the SMM observed a convoy of 39 trucks, with Russian Federation license plates, and with the inscription “Humanitarian aid from the Russian Federation”. The trucks entered Luhansk city proceeding from the direction of the Russian Federation. Of the 39 trucks, three were sent to the “LPR ministry of emergency and reconstruction”, the remainder drove to three different warehouses in Luhansk city. The SMM saw trucks entering these sites and some of them being unloaded. The SMM was unable to verify the contents of the shipment. Regarding the three trucks that arrived at the “ministry of emergency” an interlocutor, responsible for the warehouse, said that they contained vehicle’s spare parts. An “LPR” interlocutor at one of the warehouses told SMM that the humanitarian aid shipment contained flour, wheat, sunflower oil, and cereals.
Despite claims that heavy weapons have been withdrawn, the SMM observed three main battle tanks (MBTs) in government-controlled areas; it also observed one MBT in “DPR”-controlled territory and one MBT in “LPR”-controlled territory.
The SMM Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), operating in a limited area north of Shyrokyne west of the line of contact (above government-controlled area) due to weather conditions, observed one tank north of the government-controlled village of Berdyanske (18km east of Mariupol), two tanks east of the village of Ordzhonikidze (government-controlled, 10km east of Mariupol), one south-west of Hranitne (government-controlled, 50km north-east of Mariupol, and three tanks near Andriivka (government-controlled, 50km north of Mariupol). Three previously-observed artillery pieces (likely towed 152mm cannon) near the government-controlled village of Pionerske (13km east of Mariupol) (http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/157061) were no longer there. Numerous armoured vehicles were observed across the flight areas, and the UAV also observed two burning houses in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol).
On 14 May the SMM was, for the first time, despite earlier attempts, granted access to the camp of the 5th battalion of the Right Sector/Ukrainian Volunteers’ Corps (DUK) near Velikomykhailivka (190km east of Dnepropetrovsk). The commander at the site told the SMM that the camp was established a year ago by the Right Sector as a training/support camp for 3 DUK battalions.
The SMM spoke to a representative of Odessa regional police, who confirmed an explosion had occurred on 14 May at 17 Oleksiivska square in Odessa, where the police found that a non-fragmentation home-made explosive device with approximately 0.4kg of TNT equivalent was put into a UkrTelecom communication well, containing telecom cable connections, which was destroyed by the blast. No casualties were reported. He said that the police are investigating the incident under Art.194 (2) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “Intentional destruction or damage of property”. The SMM visited the scene of the incident, and observed some damage in the infrastructure.
On 14 May the SMM met the military commissar in Chernivtsi, who informed the SMM about an ongoing gathering in Toporivtsi village (15km north-east of Chernivtsi), where local people had established a road block, in the middle of the village, on road T2603, protesting against mobilization, corruption and abuse of power. When the SMM arrived at the location, the crowd was already dispersing and the roadblock had been removed. The SMM was informed by a local police officer that the gathering passed without incident after local authorities met with the protestors. The SMM saw the crowd leaving the place and assessed that there were approximately 100 participants, mainly adult women. The SMM spoke to some of the protesters -10 women, 2 men, all older than 40 years - who complained about the procedure regarding mobilization, for instance the procedure followed for handing over draft notices.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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.
- While en route to Novoazovsk (“DPR”-controlled, 40km east of Mariupol), the SMM was stopped at a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint located west of the entrance to Novoazovsk. The “DPR” members stated that the SMM could only continue with an escort. Considering time constraints, the SMM took the decision not to wait for the escort to be arranged and returned to base.