Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 15 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 situation at and around Donetsk airport was relatively calm, with fewer ceasefire violations recorded by the SMM compared to previous days.
The situation at and around Donetsk airport was relatively calm. Between 08:00 and 10:00hrs and between 12:00 and 13:00hrs, at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed a total of 17 explosions caused by incoming and outgoing artillery and mortar fire as well as small-arms and light-weapons (SALW) fire. The SMM assessed that the explosions occurred at locations to the north, north-west, north-east and west and at distances ranging between 2 and 10km from its position.
From observation points located 1.5 and 3.5km west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard sporadic sounds consistent with the use of small-arms fire and a number of undetermined detonations, especially to the north, north-east and east of its position.
In “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM monitored a protest of about 200 mostly middle aged and elderly women who gathered at the “DPR” “government” building and demanded an end to shelling, the withdrawal of “DPR” military equipment as well as the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the area of the Oktiabr mine (“DPR”-controlled, 2.2km south-west of Donetsk airport), and to be accommodated in safe locations. The SMM did not see any “police” present at the event, which ended peacefully.
In Dimitrov (government-controlled, 61km north-northwest of Donetsk), the secretary of the city council told the SMM that financial aid granted by the government to unemployed internally displaced persons (IDPs) 420 UAH monthly, had been suspended, affecting just under 10 per cent of the 18,000 registered IDPs.
In Raihorodok (government-controlled, 126km north of Donetsk), 12 inhabitants, seven women and five men, told the SMM that there were several security incidents such as houses and fences damaged by bullets occurring from exercises in the military shooting range in the village, which resulted in residents refraining from leaving their buildings. The SMM observed several houses and gates which had bullet impacts.
The SMM met a Rinat Akhmetov Foundation representative in Donetsk city who said that on 13 June its humanitarian convoy consisting of 26 trucks was denied access to “DPR”-controlled areas by the Ukrainian Armed Forces 43th battalion "Patriot" at Maiorsk (government-controlled, 44km north of Donetsk) despite having all necessary documentation.
The SMM visited Kominternove (government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol) for the first time since 9 March and spoke to 17 inhabitants, men and women. They said restrictions of freedom of movement remains their main concern as they are not allowed to cross the nearby checkpoint #15 in Vynohradne (government-controlled, 10km east of Mariupol) and are redirected to the distant checkpoint #12, located at Hnutove (“DPR”-controlled, 19km north-west of Mariupol), which adds three hours to a journey to Mariupol.
In the Luhansk region the SMM recorded ceasefire violations in the areas of Bakhmutivka, Sievierodonetsk, Muratove and Bobrove (government-controlled, 40, 74 and 50 and 56km north-west of Luhansk) and Donetskyi (“Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled, 50km north-west of Luhansk), involving heavy artillery and SALW.
At 11:20hrs, at the entrance to Toshkivka (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk), two members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told the SMM that 40 minutes before the SMM’s arrival two big calibre shells impacted the road nearby. The SMM from their vehicle observed two fresh impact sites, one on the road and one in the field at about 50 metres in the northern direction, which had at least three metres diameter.
In Popasna (government-controlled, 69km north-west of Luhansk), inhabitants said to the SMM that water supply was restricted to late at night and early in the morning. The director of the Western Water Company said to the SMM that repair works were initiated near Popasna on 13 June but halted on 14 June following shelling which had slightly injured a worker. He expected the works to resume on 16 June.
In Miusynsk (“LPR”-controlled, 62km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM met a member of the “municipal council” who said that, as of 1 July, six of the seven coal mines are expected to resume extracting activities.
The SMM visited the house of elderly and persons with disabilities in Rovenky (“LPR”-controlled, 55km south of Luhansk), where the head nurse said that the institution is fully dependent on humanitarian aid but that continued medicine shortages remained a concern, as did the lack of salaries for the staff since February. She added that the institution continues to work under Ukrainian legislation.
The SMM revisited six “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At four of them, all weapons previously observed were in situ. At a fifth site, nine mortars (120mm) were missing while the sixth one was abandoned and ten, previously recorded, towed artillery (D-30, 122mm) were missing.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed weapons in areas that are in violation of withdrawal lines according to the Minsk Package. In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM observed one truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun, 11 main battle tanks (MBTs) (T-64) and seven MBTs (T-72), as well as nine armoured personnel carriers (BMP 1). On 14 June, in “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted eight MBTs, three howitzers (Gvozdika 2S1) and 16 armoured personnel carriers, while in government-controlled areas it observed two MBTs. On 15 June, in “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM UAV spotted three artillery pieces (122mm) and one mortar position, and in government-controlled areas one mortar position.
The head of the forensic department at Dnepropetrovsk’s morgue said to the SMM that the bodies of 16 soldiers had been returned from the ATO zone between 8 and 15 June and staff of the Mechnikov regional hospital in Dnepropetrovsk said that 28 servicepersons had been admitted to the hospital between 9 and 14 June.
In Kharkiv, the SMM observed a rally at the Constitution Square. The participants, nearly 100 students of mixed gender, aged between 20 and 25, protested against an attack which reportedly occurred in a local university dormitory on 11 June when 30 unidentified masked men indiscriminately assaulted students, resulting in six wounded students, four Jordanian nationals and two Ukrainians, with two being in critical condition. The police said to the SMM that five people had been arrested in connection with the incident and an investigation was underway. Some 70 police officers were present at the event which ended peacefully.
On 14 June, the SMM monitored the weekly gathering of anti-Maidan activists at Kulikove Pole in Odessa where approximately 90 activists, mostly women, gathered to commemorate the victims of the events of 2 May 2014. Another group of 20 pro-Maidan, mostly men, gathered and shouted insults to the anti-Maidan activists. Some 120 police were present and kept both groups separated. The event ended peacefully.
In Odessa, on 13 June, the SMM visited the office of the head of the communist party and confirmed earlier media reports that it had been occupied the previous day by Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) and Odessa self-defence. The SMM observed four Pravyi Sektor activists, wearing camouflage uniforms with a baseball bat and truncheon who said that there were five-six additional activists inside. On 15 June, the SMM saw Ukrainian and Pravyi Sektor flags still outside the premises and met the head of the Pravyi Sektor, who denied the SMM access to the building. On the phone, the police told the SMM that an investigation had been launched under Article 356 (unsanctioned action) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The SMM observed the opening of the exhibition “Cyborgs” at the World War II museum in Kyiv, commemorating the sacrifices made by Ukrainian servicepersons who fought to protect the Donetsk airport. The event was attended by some 250 people of different ages.
On 14 June, the SMM visited the local vehicle market in Ivano-Frankivsk, following media reports that the regional military commissariat had been delivering calls for medical examination for mobilization to male visitors. The SMM did not observe representatives of the military commissariat during their visit but armed guards of the vehicle market told the SMM that approximately 40 people in camouflage and police uniforms were verifying the identification of men, checking them against drafting lists and delivering notifications for medical examination. The deputy military commissar confirmed to the SMM that such notices for medical examination were being delivered at the vehicle market.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Lviv 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. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government.
- At a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, a “DPR” armed member said that his commander had not authorized the SMM to enter the facility. Some 45 minutes later the SMM was allowed to enter.
- At another “DPR” holding area, while one SMM monitoring officer was allowed to enter, access was denied to the accompanying language assistant.