Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 5 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 significant caution regarding security considerations*. Ceasefire violations continued at and around Donetsk airport, and the SMM continued to note challenges with access to medical services and water supply in certain areas.
The SMM observed ongoing ceasefire violations at and around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk). On the morning of 5 June, while at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed a total of 88 explosions, most of which were part of an exchange of fire between “DPR”-controlled Spartak (immediately to the east of Donetsk airport) and government-controlled positions in Vodiane (20km north-west of Donetsk city centre) and Opytne (20km north-north-west of Donetsk city centre). The SMM assessed that the weapons being fired were artillery over 100mm.
While at the Donetsk central railway station observation point on the afternoon of 5 June, the SMM heard a total of 111 explosions, anti-aircraft and small arms. The SMM also heard an intensive exchange of anti-aircraft gun fire which it assessed to be between the “Muraveynik” area (government-controlled, 11.6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) and the “Zhabunki” area (“DPR”-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk city centre).
The SMM spoke with the “human rights ombudsperson” of the “DPR” who stated that on 3 June, four people had died in the “DPR”-controlled area, while 36 civilians (21 female, 15 male) and 25 armed “DPR” members were injured. On 4 June, one civilian had died, while four civilians (one female, three male) were injured. According to the interlocutor, from 30 May to 4 June, six female corpses and 38 male corpses were delivered to morgues with causes of death injuries received as a result of shelling.
In Petrovskyi district of Donetsk city, the SMM visited a hospital, where the deputy head informed the SMM that on 3 June 84 military men and 21 civilians (four men, 17 women, mostly elderly) had been treated in the hospital for shrapnel injuries as a result of shelling. One civilian and one armed “DPR” member had died from their injuries. He further told the SMM that there is a lack of certain medicines and key supplies in the hospital.
The SMM visited Telmanove (“DPR”-controlled, 67km south-south-east of Donetsk) in order to monitor and assess the damage and confirm the civilian casualties caused by shelling on 4 June. The SMM analyzed 13 craters in an area of 1 square kilometre. At seven of these impact sites, the SMM determined that the shelling had originated from a westerly direction. At six impact sites, the SMM could identify that the type of the weapon used was a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), and in two cases the SMM could specify the type of MLRS as a BM-21 GRAD. The SMM visited the local hospital and spoke to the deputy head doctor, who stated that a four-year-old boy was killed in his home by the shelling. The SMM spoke to a “DPR” “policeman” who confirmed this and further stated that three elderly female residents had also been injured due to the shelling.
In Slovyansk (government-controlled, 95km north of Donetsk), at a weekly security meeting a representative of the department responsible for the collaboration between the military and civilians within the Donetsk oblast Civil-Military Administration (CIMIC) reported that a plan had been developed to evacuate approximately 1,500 residents from the recently shelled Marinka and Krasnohorivka (government-controlled; 23km west-south-west and 20km west of Donetsk, respectively). He stated that all the checkpoints in that area were currently closed and roads were heavily damaged and mined. The residents of Marinka and Krasnohorivka were concerned for their safety, he stated. The CIMIC representative explained that the evacuees from Marinka and Krasnohorivka were likely going to be accommodated in Artemivsk and Kostiantynivka (both government-controlled, 66km north-north-east and 58km north of Donetsk, respectively).
At the first government-controlled checkpoint on the road from Donetsk to Kurakhove (government-controlled, 50km west of Donetsk), the SMM noticed that the checkpoint had fortifications and lanes of anti-tank mines along the road.
The security situation in and around Mariupol (government-controlled, 103km south of Donetsk) remained calm. In line with current security considerations, the SMM did not conduct monitoring activities in the area of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed a house burning in Shyrokyne.
The SMM visited Hranitne (47km northeast of Mariupol, government-controlled), 13km across the contact line from Telmanove, and met with three female members of the village administration. They reported that their electricity supply is frequently interrupted due to damage to the power line caused by shelling. The SMM analyzed 15 recent craters and assessed that four of them were caused by mortar shelling originating from the south-east.
At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 77km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM was presented with two log files of ceasefire violations of 4 June, compiled independently by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the JCCC and containing 88 and 100 violations respectively. The former log attributed a clear majority of the violations to “DPR” and “LPR” forces; the latter equally between the government and the “DPR”/ “LPR” forces.
The SMM observed that the overall situation in the Luhansk region remained generally calm, but whilst in “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 15 artillery explosions 6km north of its position. In government-controlled Shchastia (20km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one outgoing mortar shot incoming from approximately one kilometre north-east of the SMM’s position. This was followed by an intensive exchange (incoming and outgoing) of small-arms fire, automatic grenade launchers and mortars, lasting just over ten minutes.
In Slovianoserbsk, the head doctor of the psychiatric hospital told the SMM that her facility faces a lack of basic medications, especially pain killers, antibiotics, and psychiatric remedies. According to her, the last humanitarian aid had been delivered in December 2014 by Médecins Sans Frontières. The clinic does not have enough fresh meat and milk products, while gas and electricity supply is sufficient. Patients’ relatives are not able to visit due to the closure of the checkpoints on the government side of the contact line.
On 4 June, the “head” of the “LPR”-controlled Komisarivka (61km west-south-west of Luhansk) “village council” told the SMM that the village had relied before the conflict on water supplied from government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), but that this source has been cut off and the village is now relying for its water supply on “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka (62km west-south-west of Luhansk). Also on 4 June, the “head” of the “LPR”-controlled Yuzhne Lomuvatka (60km west-south-west of Luhansk) “village council” told the SMM that the village’s water supply, which had previously come from government-controlled Zolote, was cut off two weeks ago. He told the SMM that one water truck supplies the village once or twice a week and that agricultural activities in the village have ceased because of the threat of mines and unexploded ordinance.
Despite claims that heavy weapons have been withdrawn, the SMM continued to observe the presence and movement of heavy weapons in places proscribed by Minsk, including by its UAV. In government-controlled areas, SMM patrols observed two T-64 main battle tanks (MBT) and SMM UAVs observed 6 MBTs. In “DPR”-controlled areas, SMM UAVs observed one artillery piece in Telmanove but was subject to jamming while flying over Dzerzhinske (“DPR”-controlled, 30km east of Mariupol). SMM UAVs observed defensive positions, military vehicles and shelling marks on both sides of the contact line in multiple locations.
In Kharkiv region, on 4 June, when arriving in Vovchansk (87km north-east of Kharkiv and 6km from the Russian border), the SMM was stopped for approximately ten minutes at a Ukrainian Armed Forces check point which has been in place since at least May 2014. The soldiers registered the names of the SMM monitors and asked about their citizenship. This was the first time that the SMM monitors have been asked about their citizenship at a checkpoint in the Kharkiv area.
On 4 June, SMM went to Pavlohrad (61 km east of Dnepropetrovsk) to follow up on media reports that a Rinat Ahmetov Foundation humanitarian aid convoy destined for Donbas was stuck in Pavlohrad due to an increase in hostilities along the contact line. The humanitarian convoy leader, whom the SMM contacted by phone, said that the convoy, consisting of 39 trucks, reached the government-controlled checkpoint at Andronivka (80km east-south-east of Pavlohrad) and decided not to proceed into the conflict zone after learning of increased hostilities in the area. He stated that the convoy returned to Pavlohrad on 3 June, where it is parked until the security situation permits the delivery of the aid to Donetsk.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Odessa, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv.
* 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 cease-fire does not hold everywhere.
- A representative of the “DPR commandatura” in Ilovaisk (“DPR”-controlled, 31 km south-east of Donetsk) at a railroad office south of Ilovaisk advised the SMM that its presence at such facilities should be reported first to his office, providing details on SMM’s patrol reason, so that he might provide “DPR” escort and protection from inter alia “renegades and mine hazards.” SMM decided to cancel the patrol in the area.
- At the checkpoint at the entrance of the village of Berezove (government-controlled, 35km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was denied passage.
- The SMM was initially turned back at the first government-controlled checkpoint on the road from Donetsk to Kurakhove but was able to pass through the checkpoint 30 minutes later.
- On several occasions, Ukrainian Armed Forces at checkpoints stopped SMM patrols to inquire about the nationalities of patrol members. At a checkpoint four kilometers west of Hranitne, the SMM was asked to disclose the nationalities of the patrol team. The SMM was allowed to pass through the checkpoint after a 25-minute delay. At other checkpoints, SMM patrols were able to pass after shorter delays.
- In Kharkiv region, on 4 June, when arriving in Vovchansk, the SMM was stopped for approximately ten minutes at a Ukrainian Armed Forces check point which has been in place since at least May 2014. The soldiers registered the names of the SMM monitors and asked about their citizenship. This was the first time that the SMM monitors have been asked about their citizenship at a checkpoint in the Kharkiv area.
- The SMM UAV was subject to jamming while flying over Dzerzhinske (“DPR”-controlled, 30km east of Mariupol).