Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 9 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 an increased number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk area. The SMM visited the area of Shyrokyne for the first time since 14 May.
The SMM observed an increased number of ceasefire violations from its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at the Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre). From this location, the SMM heard 129 and saw an additional 202 explosions caused by artillery (122mm), mortar (120mm), and anti-aircraft gun (SU, 32-23mm) fire, at a distance of between 3-7 kilometres, originating from areas to the north, north-east, north-west, north-north-west, and north-north-east. While at the JCCC Observation Post at Donetsk Central Railway Station, the SMM was informed by both the Russian Federation Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Armed Forces representatives to the JCCC that, the previous evening, they had heard three mortar projectiles (120mm) impacting in areas at a distance between 150-230 metres north-north-east of the observation post.
The SMM conducted crater analysis in the area of the railway station. The SMM observed debris of glass and plastic from the impacts – and two fresh impacts on the roof of the pedestrian walkway and one on the train tracks – which the SMM assessed to be consistent with projectiles originating from areas north-west of the railway station. In Krasnoznamennaia Street (“DPR”-controlled, 9km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM inspected two other crater impacts caused by mortar fire (120mm) originating from a northerly direction. In addition, the SMM observed shrapnel assessed to be consistent with both mortar (120mm) and multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). Based on its analysis, the SMM concluded that the area around the railway station had been affected by nine MLRS (Grad) and several mortar impacts.
The SMM visited the area of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) for the first time since 14 May.* In the village the SMM requested to be able to speak to some residents, but was told by “DPR” members that all remaining civilians had been evacuated five days ago. On the same day, the SMM was contacted by phone by a resident of Shyrokyne who said that thirteen civilians were still present in Shyrokyne. Whilst in the village, the SMM heard eight explosions at a far distance, from a northerly direction, and saw fresh unexploded ordnance from a mortar (120mm). The SMM observed other evidence of recent shelling, including damage to civilian houses, the smell of smoke and burnt houses, with smoke still emanating from two of them. Among the “DPR” members at the checkpoint at the north-eastern entrance to Shyrokyne, the SMM saw young female and male armed persons. Some of the male individuals were estimated to be minors.
At the JCCC headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk) the SMM was presented with separate ceasefire log files by representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and representatives of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. The Ukrainian Armed Forces had logged 87 violations. The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC reported that seven Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers had been killed when their vehicle hit an anti-tank mine in Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 15km south-west of Donetsk). The Russian Federation Armed Forces had logged 77 violations and reported eight individuals killed and five wounded in action.
Due to continued closure of government-controlled checkpoints at the contact line, the SMM observed an increase in the waiting line at the government-controlled checkpoint at Artemivsk (government-controlled, 86.5km north-north-east of Donetsk) - the only open route between “DPR” and government-controlled areas. The SMM observed 390 civilian vehicles, including 24 civilian buses, (compared to 205 vehicles on 8 June) waiting to cross from “DPR”-controlled territory to government-controlled territory and approximately 82 vehicles waiting to cross in the opposite direction.
The SMM observed that the overall situation in Luhansk remained calm, however, from its position in the vicinity of government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard one explosion caused by incoming heavy artillery (152mm) at a distance of 10 km in a south-westerly direction from the SMM’s position (government-controlled area).
In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) nine residents (seven females and two males, from 30 to 70 years old) told the SMM that the village had sustained heavy shelling on the evening of 8 June. The SMM was told by residents that the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge continued to be closed for all traffic, which was confirmed by the personnel at the last checkpoint prior to the bridge.
In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Krasne (25km south-east of Luhansk) a local interlocutor told the SMM that the village had reliable local well water, gas supply, and electricity, but there was a lack of adequate medical services and shortage of medicines. In government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk) one elderly woman said that for more than a week there had been a problem with water supply in her part of the village that currently affects about 1,000 inhabitants.
The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area where the SMM had previously recorded multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS); 18 launchers (Uragan BM-27) and 16 transporter loaders (Uragan BM-27). The SMM assessed that six launchers (Uragan BM-27) and five transporter loaders (BM-27) were missing. The interlocutor at the site told the SMM that the systems had been removed because they were not combat operational due to their age. The SMM noted a new MLRS (Uragan, BM-27 transporter-loader). The SMM visited another Ukrainian Forces controlled heavy weapons holding area for the first time, and observed six pieces of self-propelled artillery systems (2S1). Both heavy weapons holding areas were in compliance with Minsk withdrawal lines.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons in areas that are in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled Komsomolske (44km south-east of central Donetsk) the UAV spotted a concentration of five main battle tanks (MBTs), 18 armored personal carriers (APCs) and more than 25 trucks, including two fuel trucks, 400-500 medium to heavy artillery ammunition boxes, and a supply of MLRS. In “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (28km east of Mariupol) the UAV spotted a concentration of two MBTs, 11 armored personal carriers/infantry fighting vehicles (APC/IFV), seven multi-purpose light-armored towing vehicles (MTLB) and around 30 military trucks. In “DPR”-controlled Sontseve (18km east of Mariupol) the UAV spotted 8 MBTs.
On 8 June, the head of the Dnepropetrovsk city forensic department told the SMM that between 1 and 8 June, the two morgues in Dnepropetrovsk city had received the bodies of 12 soldiers from the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone - five of them from previous battles and seven from the fighting in Marinka on 3 June.
The SMM monitored the situation concerning the fire at a fuel storage depot in Kriachky village, Vasylkiv district (30 km south-east of Kyiv). The SMM observed the fire from a distance of 1km due to denied access by the police for security reasons. At 12:00hrs, the SMM observed fierce fire and black smoke reaching a height of more than one kilometre. The State Emergency Service reported that the fire had started at 17:29hrs on 8 June and civilians were being evacuated from a 2km area around the fire. The Ministry of Interior reported one dead and 14 injured persons as of 12:00hrs on 9 June. An advisor to the Minister of Interior reported about three possible causes of the explosion: violations of oil storage rules, failure of a technical component, or arson. The oil depot owner, BRSM-Nafta Company, claimed that the cause was arson and did not exclude a terrorist act. The police are investigating the causes and circumstances of the incident and the SMM will continue to follow developments.
On 8 June, the SMM monitored the situation at the administrative border line crossing point (ABL) of Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson). The SMM observed only 30 passenger and cargo vehicles (compared to the long queues and wait times encountered in previous months due to the fact that it could be crossed only on foot or in private passenger vehicles) waiting in line to cross into Crimea, with approximately 40 minutes processing time for passenger cars. In regard to the forthcoming changes to transport communication between mainland Ukraine and Crimea, stipulated by a decree of the Ukraine Cabinet of Ministers on 4 June that resumes transport by bus and train, a senior border guard commander at the checkpoint noted that the border guards welcomed the decision as it would substantially minimize the crossing by pedestrians and release the burden of passenger flow at the Chonhar crossing point.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Odessa, 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 presence of mines, the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines, as well as damaged infrastructure.
The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere. Since 6 Jun persistent mobile network connection problems in Donetsk and Luhansk coupled with the self-imposed restriction of movement into high risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities particularly in areas not controlled by the government. The restrictions have interrupted routine SMM patrols to heavy weapons holding sites controlled by “DPR” and “LPR”. However areas that are currently inaccessible for mobile patrols are being monitored by UAV operations.
- At Hrodivka (government-controlled, 53km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM was denied access to a heavy weapon holding area as the commander was absent.
- At a “DPR” checkpoint at the north-eastern entrance to Shyrokyne, the SMM was stopped for 55 minutes before being allowed to proceed. The SMM was then escorted by “DPR” members into the northern part of the village, but was not allowed to continue further.
 The SMM however did receive a letter from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence saying that they would place heavy weapons back to the contact line due to what they described as the “real threat” following events in and around Marinka on 3 June.