Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 1 June 2015
This report is provided 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 continuing ceasefire violations in and around Donetsk airport; Luhansk region remained relatively calm. Due to current security concerns, the SMM did not visit Shyrokyne.
The SMM observed continuing ceasefire violations in and around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk city centre). During the day, at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard a total of 109 mainly outgoing explosions from the north, north-north-west and north-east consistent with heavy and light weapons (122mm howitzers, 120 and 82mm mortars), and (23mm) anti-aircraft fire.
In line with current security considerations, the SMM did not visit the area of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). The SMM followed up on reports about the death of one civilian in Shyrokyne due to supposedly sniper fire on 30 May (see SMM Daily Report, 1 June 2015, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/daily-updates). Speaking to the SMM on the phone from the hospital in Novoazovsk, a neighbour of the deceased who was also injured in the attack said that the alleged sniper fire came from a south-westerly direction.
Both the Russian Colonel-General, Representative of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and the Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, had approached the SMM to facilitate a ceasefire in order to enable recovery of the body. Despite SMM efforts on facilitating a local ceasefire and the fact that the sides were holding fire temporarily, the “DPR” did not consider it safe to proceed with the recovery.
In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed seven people (five middle aged females and two elderly males), waiting in front of the second to last government-controlled checkpoint prior to the bridge. One female interlocutor complained to the SMM that they intended to cross to “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled territory, but that the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint personnel did not allow them, explaining that the bridge is closed for all movements. Another female interlocutor, resident of Stanytsia Luhanska, explained to the SMM that because of the closure, she was not able to see her children who are studying in Luhansk city. At the last government-controlled checkpoint prior to the bridge an individual of the Chernihiv battalion, serving under the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior told the SMM that the checkpoint was closed for any movement and that on 1 June, the Chernihiv battalion personnel allowed only one child to cross from the “LPR”-territory to Stanytsia Luhanska. According to the interlocutor, on 31 May several hundred people wanted to cross the bridge in both directions due to the religious holiday, but the checkpoint personnel had orders from their superior not to let anybody pass. The SMM observed five people waiting at the checkpoint on “LPR”-controlled territory wanting to cross into government-controlled territory (see SMM Daily Report, 29 May 2015, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/160931).
The SMM spoke to the “commander” of the “LPR” “border guards” in Krasnodon (43km south-east of Luhansk) who said that the recent closure of crossing points (by order of Luhansk governor of 26 May) at the line of contact, has not impacted on the situation at the “LPR”-controlled border crossing point with the Russian Federation in Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk). According to him there is no increased traffic towards the Russian Federation. The interlocutor said that over the past weeks the processing of vehicles and persons in both directions – to the Russian Federation and back – has been improving and the queues have been getting shorter.
The SMM revisited six “DPR”-controlled heavy weapons holding areas observing that their locations comply with the respective Minsk withdrawal lines. At four of the holding areas the weapons previously recorded were in situ. At one “DPR” site the SMM found only two 100mm anti-tank guns. Six self-propelled howitzers (122m Gvozdika) previously recorded were still missing as of 29 May when SMM first noted it. At another site, the SMM noted that one towed howitzer (152mm MSTA) previously recorded was missing.
The SMM revisited three Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapon holding areas and noted that all locations comply with the respective Minsk withdrawal lines. Only at one site weapons previously recorded were in situ. At the two other sites, the SMM observed that some of the heavy weapons previously recorded and accounted for were missing, namely two multiple launcher rocket system (MLRS) (122mm BM-21 “GRAD”) at one site, and five MLRS (122mm BM-21 “GRAD”) at the second site.
Despite claims that withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed 37 tanks, mainly T-72 type, in two concentrations in “DPR”-controlled areas east of Donetsk city and nine tanks, mainly T-72 type, in government-controlled areas north of Donetsk. Furthermore, the SMM observed 10 tanks, mainly T-64 type, in government-controlled areas north-west of Luhansk city.
The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed a concentration in “DPR”-controlled territory, 61km north-east and 30km east of Mariupol, of at least 10 main battle tanks (MBT) of unknown type.
In Kyiv the SMM observed on 30 May the opening of a "Remembrance wall” for those who died participating in the anti-terrorism operation (ATO), organized by the National Guard and the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the Mykhailivska Square. There were about 30 members of the National Guard, and another 30 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces band as well as Church representatives. There were about 150 civilian spectators (equal mix of male and females aged between 18 to 70 years). The event honored Ukrainian soldiers who have fought, died and are presently deployed in eastern Ukraine. The SMM did not observe any police presence.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.
* Restrictions on SMM monitoring: 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 ceasefire does not hold everywhere.
- At the government-controlled checkpoint located at the crossroads east of Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint guard asked the SMM patrol leader whether there were any Russian Federation nationals among the patrol members. The SMM was let through the checkpoint eventually.
- At the parking lot of Ilovaysk main train station (“DPR”-controlled, 34km east of Donetsk) the SMM was approached by one civilian and three “DPR” armed members. One armed “DPR” member asked the SMM about its presence and said that due to security concerns it should avoid to be close to an object and area of strategic military importance.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint close to Karlivka (government-controlled, 26km west-south-west of Donetsk), soldiers asked for the names of the SMM patrol members and inquired if there were any Russian Federation citizens among the patrol members. The SMM was let through the checkpoint eventually.
- At the checkpoint at the outskirts of Mykolaivka (government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk) the SMM was informed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers that it could only enter Mykolaivka, but would not be allowed to proceed to Novohnativka (government-controlled, 41km south, south-east of Donetsk) due to security concerns.
- On 1 June, an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle experienced jamming for approximately 44 minutes orbiting Sartana (government-controlled, 19km north-east of Mariupol) entailing a loss of video-feed and ability to monitor.