Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 21 June 2015
This report is 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*. Intensified fighting was observed in Donetsk and near Mariupol, but the situation in Luhansk remained relatively calm over the weekend. The SMM visited Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” weapons holding areas and observed presence of heavy weapons in areas in violation with Minsk withdrawal lines.
During the weekend, fighting intensified in Donetsk, where substantially increased shelling was observed. A high level of violence was observed in and around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk city centre).
Over a period of two days, from its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre) and other observation posts in and near Donetsk city centre, the SMM observed more than 500 incoming and outgoing explosions consistent with artillery and mortar fire. The SMM heard 187 of these explosions from its observation post at the central railway station, at locations to the north, north-north-west, south-west, and north-east at distances 2 to 8km.
An increase in ceasefire violations was also observed in areas near Mariupol over the weekend. In government-controlled areas 14-30km north-east of Mariupol, the SMM heard over 170 explosions, mostly incoming and outgoing, consistent with tank (around 100 rounds) and artillery fire, at distances between 1 and 15km from its positions.
Between 10:15 and 11:05hrs, the SMM observed approximately 30 individuals (male and female, different age groups) protesting in front of the SMM office in Mariupol. Some of the protestors were carrying posters and banners proclaiming that the OSCE should not be present in Mariupol or in the rest of the country, that the OSCE is not impartial, and expressed reserves about OSCE’s reporting on the situation in Shyrokyne. The protestors were peaceful and conveyed their views to the SMM politely. The police were present throughout the duration of the event.
At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM was presented with two logbooks of 20 and 21 June, compiled independently by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at the JCCC. In total for the two days period, the Ukrainian Armed Forces logbook recorded 195 ceasefire violations, 39 of which were attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 156 to “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). The Russian Federation Armed Forces logbook recorded 185 ceasefire violations, of which 63 were attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 122 to ”DPR” and “LPR”.
At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw 30 civilian vehicles stopped by the side of the road and spoke with some civilians (male and female of different age groups) who said that they had been prevented by the Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel from crossing the checkpoint towards areas not under government control. Some of the people told the SMM that this checkpoint had been closed to civilians for some days. During the day, the SMM observed that no cars were allowed to cross. At the checkpoint, the SMM saw 12 Ukrainian Armed Forces vehicles with soldiers, driving in a westerly direction. The commander stated that his unit had counter-attacked “DPR” forces in a village east of the checkpoint. While at the checkpoint, the SMM heard 11 artillery bursts assessed to be outgoing at a distance of 1-2km west and south-west of its position and saw black smoke rising from a village east of its position.
At a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw several civilian vehicles, including a bus and a van, stopped on the road. The SMM observed 10 bullet holes on the van and two flat tires. Some of the civilians said that they had been stopped by unidentified armed persons who told them that a mining operation was going on. According to the interlocutors, later some of the vehicles in the front had been hit with machine-gun fire, originating from a westerly direction, from unidentified sources, and the drivers of both vehicles had been wounded. The SMM observed what appeared to be blood on the road. In the centre of Oktiabr, the SMM observed five fresh craters assessed to be consistent with impacts of mortars (120mm) fired from a west-north-westerly direction.
In “DPR”-controlled Krasnoarmiiske (32km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM analysed seven impact craters. The SMM assessed that the craters were consistent with mortar fire (152mm) originating from a west-north-westerly direction.
In government-controlled Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed that the bridge connecting Pavlopil to Orlovske (23km north-east of Mariupol), which had previously been damaged by shelling in September 2014, was completely destroyed by explosives on 20 June. The SMM talked to civilians in the area who said that the bridge was blown up early morning on 20 June.
At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Buhas (government-controlled, 60km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed a 2km long queue with more than 300 civilian vehicles waiting to pass the checkpoint in the direction of Donetsk and a 1km long queue of more than 100 civilian vehicles waiting on the other side of the checkpoint. This is an increased number of vehicles waiting at the checkpoint in comparison to previous days. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel were checking the cars in both directions.
In Volnovakha (government-controlled, 55km north of Mariupol), the SMM observed a long queue of 250 civilian vehicles waiting to cross in the direction of Donetsk and a long queue waiting on the other side. Military personnel said that the average waiting time was between 6-7 hours due to shortage of staff.
In Luhansk the situation was calm over the weekend with sporadic shelling observed. On 20 June, in government-controlled Hirske (62km north-west of Luhansk) and Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard continuous bursts of heavy machine gun fire and saw four explosions caused by unspecified types of weapon.
On 20 June, in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM analysed an impact crater (3-4m deep with a diameter of 20-25cm) caused by an unidentified rocket. The rocket had impacted in a garden located around 100m from a private residence, but the shell had not exploded. The SMM estimated the rocket to have been fired from a southern direction in “LPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM conducted crater analysis also north of Trokhizbenka. The SMM saw two impact sites. The first rocket had hit an abandoned civilian shop next to an apartment building. The SMM observed broken windows and damage caused by shrapnel. At the second site, the SMM observed that the rocket (Grad BM-21) casing was still in the crater. The SMM estimated that it was fired from a south-westerly direction in “LPR”-controlled areas.
On 20 June, between 10:00 and 11:00hrs, representatives of the NGO Luhansk Economic Union held a peaceful demonstration in front of the SMM office in Luhansk city. The SMM observed 50 civilians present (around 30 females and 20 males, aged 30-60). The demonstrators were carrying signs with messages denouncing economic restrictions, and calling on the OSCE to “tell the truth to the world”, and for the President to fulfill the Minsk agreements. The SMM observed the presence of seven “LPR” members and six representatives of the media. At 10:20hrs, two male interlocutors (in their forties) introduced themselves as founders of the NGO and members of the “LPR” “people’s council”, and addressed a letter to the SMM drawing attention to the socio-economic situation in “LPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas. At one site, the SMM observed that six previously recorded self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) were in situ. At a checkpoint nearby the SMM observed 15 previously recorded anti-tank mines lying parallel to the road. The commander explained that they would be deployed. At the second site, the SMM observed that of the 12 previously recorded self-propelled howitzers (2S3), eight were in situ and four were missing. The SMM revisited three “DPR”-controlled heavy weapons holding areas. At the first site, the SMM observed that two pieces of towed artillery (D-30) were missing. At the second site, the SMM found that four MLRS (BM-21 Grad) were loaded with rockets. At the third site, all weapons were in situ. All locations are in compliance with the Minsk withdrawal lines.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons present: On 20 June, the SMM observed six stationary main battle tanks (MBT T64) in “LPR”-controlled areas. On 21 June, the SMM observed six MBTs (T-64) stationary at a military training site in “LPR”-controlled areas. In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM observed two stationary infantry fighting vehicles carrying personnel armed with heavy-machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank rocket tubes. The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted two main battle tanks (MBTs) and three mortar positions in “DPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM met with the head of the police department in Lazurne (120km south of Kherson). He raised his concern about military aircrafts operating on the sea shore. He told the SMM that on 13 June he had seen an unmarked aircraft (SU 24 or SU 27) flying low along the beach. He said that local citizens had also informed him of similar fly-over activities in previous days.
The SMM met the head of the district council in Sokyriany (110km east of Chernivtsi). He expressed concern over massive evasion of the mobilization in the area - of an initial number of 400 draftees only 20-30 were being mobilized. He explained that residents in the area were critical or even indifferent to the current conflict in eastern Ukraine and many young men chose to leave the country and find work abroad. He said that currently there were about 150 mobilized men and women from Sokyriany district serving in the ATO.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Lviv, Dnepropetrovsk and Ivano-Frankivsk.
* 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.
- The SMM was stopped at a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint west of Oktiabr by “DPR” personnel who told the SMM that two artillery strikes had hit houses within the last hour in Oktiabr. After 30 minutes, the SMM was allowed to pass but was escorted by the “DPR” commander.
- On 20 June, at an “LPR”-controlled checkpoint 30km west of Luhansk, armed individuals in Cossack uniforms stopped the SMM and requested written approval from the “LPR” “command” in Luhansk city to travel through the checkpoint. The SMM contacted the area commander in Perevalsk (40km south-west of Luhansk) by phone who instructed the checkpoint personnel to allow the SMM to proceed. However, the checkpoint commander disregarded the instruction and said that he would allow access only upon orders from his direct commander.
- On 21 June, the commander of an “LPR” checkpoint 1.5 km south of Smile (32km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM it could not proceed any further without an escort as per instructions of the “LPR” “minister of interior.”
- On 21 June, near a camp of the Golden Gate Battalion serving under the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior in government-controlled Bila Hora (68km north-west of Luhansk), two individuals approached the SMM in a hostile way, inquired about its presence, and told the SMM to leave the area.
Interference with UAV:
- On 21 June, the SMM (UAV) was subject to jamming in the area of Dzerzhinske (“DPR”-controlled, 30km east of Mariupol).
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.