Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 11 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 a high level of violence in and around Donetsk airport. The SMM resumed monitoring activities at observation points west of Shyrokyne.
The level of violence in and around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk) remained high. From 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), over a five hour period, the SMM heard over 250 bursts of small arms and light weapons fire, heavy machinegun, automatic grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns as well as 134 explosions, both incoming and outgoing at one to eight kilometres north, north-west, north-east and west of its location. At 15.35hrs, explosions only 500 meters from the SMM’s position forced it to leave the observation point. The JCCC Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives present at the observation point negotiated three ceasefires during the day, at 13:10, 14:00 and 15:15hrs, but neither held longer than ten minutes.
The SMM resumed monitoring activities the first time since 14 May 2015 at the observation points located at 1.5 and 3.5km west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol). The SMM observed newly damaged houses, newly mined areas and numerous impacts of artillery and mortar shells, which occurred since their last visit. The SMM heard sporadic sounds consistent with heavy-machine gun fire and two undetermined explosions 10km north-east of their position. The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted one burning house in Shyrokyne and one burning house in Lebedynske (government-controlled, 4km north-west of Shyrokyne).
In the area of Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol) the SMM observed two 120mm mortars as well as a great amount of shrapnel spread in the area surrounding the observation point located at 1.5km west of Shyrokyne. In the SMM’s assessment, the shrapnel and the respective impacts were recent. The SMM performed crater analysis from which it assessed by the angle of the impacts that the fire originated from a north-easterly direction. The SMM also observed that a number of private houses had suffered severe damage; some of them from direct impact. While present, the SMM spoke with two members of the Azov battalion serving under the Ministry of Internal Affairs who said that a member of their unit was killed and another wounded during shelling on 10 June. When the SMM left the area, it observed that the observation point at 3.5km west of Shyrokyne continues to be occupied by what appeared to be military personnel and that mine awareness signs previously observed were still in place. Due to distance and security considerations the SMM could not ascertain any further details.
In Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 29km north-north-east of Donetsk) the SMM was approached by around 70 local inhabitants, visibly upset and distressed and verbally aggressive and critical towards the SMM. Some members of the crowd made violent threats. The SMM left the scene after the OSCE flag was broken off the vehicle and thrown to the ground. A Russian Federation Armed Forces representative of the JCCC’s office in Horlivka was present when the incident occurred.
The SMM met the “deputy head” of Kirovskyi “district administration” (“DPR”-controlled, 11km west-south-west of Donetsk) who said that the most recent shelling had occurred on 3 June and had resulted in six fatalities and 16 wounded, all civilian residents. He said that, to date, some 594 apartments and 300 private houses had been damaged and 150 small businesses destroyed and that the recent shelling resulted in the closure of a local clinic. He added that the water supply continues to be problematic due to the damage of the water pipe in Horlivka. The SMM visited the clinic and observed evidence of shelling and that it was closed.
The SMM followed up information received from the Ukrainian Armed Forces regarding recent shelling in Novotoshkivske (government-controlled, 53km north-west of Luhansk). The Ukrainian Armed Forces commander of the area said that, at 02:38hrs on 10 June, four heavy shells impacted their position. The SMM analysed one fresh crater, of 4 metres diameter and 60-centimetre-deep, and estimated that the fire impacted from a southerly direction. Based on the remains of a fuse in the crater, the SMM identified it as a model- MRV-U, commonly used for multiple launch rocket systems (Grad 122mm).
The SMM met the director and deputy director of the Western Water Filter Station company located in government-controlled Bilohrivka (89km north-west of Luhansk). They told the SMM that the damaged water pipes had resulted in the loss of large quantities of water but that some half of the necessary repairs had been conducted. As of 9 June, the company had resumed its water delivery to “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk) from where it is further distributed. They said that some workers had not been paid their salaries since June 2014.
In “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city, the SMM met two representatives of the “LPR” “ministry for emergency services”, who said that there is need for mine clearing on more than 51,000 hectares in “LPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM monitored the arrival and the unloading of a “humanitarian convoy” from the Russian Federation in Luhansk city. The convoy arrived at 10:00hrs and was composed of 42 trucks with Russian Federation number plates and drivers in blue uniform which proceeded to three different locations. The SMM observed in the first location that 32 trucks were carrying mostly sugar and flour and, at the second location, that another seven had canned food and canned milk. The SMM did not monitor unloading at the third location as it arrived there when it was completed. According to a member of the “state reserves” of the “LPR”, they have received up to 490 tons of aid from the 42 trucks and the next steps are to prepare packages for children, hospitalized people and the unprotected, following standards of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In a number of locations in “DPR” –controlled areas north-east of Mariupol, an SMM UAV spotted, inter alia, 14 main battle tanks (MBT), 48 armoured personnel carriers, and two engineering vehicles. An SMM ground patrol observed an additional MBT in the same general area. Further north – around “DPR”-controlled Ilovaisk (30km east-south-east of Donetsk) – an SMM UAV saw 32 military-type trucks.
On 10 June, the SMM monitored a protest in Lviv in front of the Lychakivskyi district police station organized by the non-governmental organization Autonomous Resistance (“OPIR”) which was attended by approximately 30 people, mostly men. An “OPIR” member, who is also a journalist, is under investigation by the police for unspecified reasons. The event ended peacefully.
On 10 June, the SMM monitored a protest in front of the Lviv State Academy of Finance organized by academic staff, students and their family members against a recent government order to dissolve the entity and subordinate it to the Ivan Franko National University. Around 250 people, both men and women, attended. Students and academic staff claimed they had not been consulted before. They warned of future protests and civil disobedience. The police were present at the event which ended peacefully.
In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a press conference organized by the humanitarian centre “Pomozem” of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. The co-ordinator said that seven out of the nine distribution points in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city were not operational due to lack of supply as a result of 26 trucks held at a checkpoint for procedural reasons for eight days. The interlocutor stated that the centre would continue assisting the civilian population also in areas not currently controlled by the government.
In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a press conference of the assistant to the head of State Border Service where it was announced that on 10 June new regulations entered into force regarding Crimea. The regulations list information on crossing points, including the documents needed to cross and grounds on which a person can be denied access.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi.
* 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 ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Since 6 June 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”.
- The SMM was stopped at a "”DPR” checkpoint located north of Shyrokyne; the SMM had to wait while the “DPR” members requested permission from their supervisors to allow the SMM to continue. After 25 minutes, the SMM was able to proceed without any escort.