Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 22 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*. The situation at and around the Donetsk airport was tense. The SMM observed ceasefire violations in several locations in the Luhansk region.
The situation at and around Donetsk airport was tense. Between 09:00 and 17:00hrs, 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 362 explosions consistent with artillery and mortar fire as well as bursts consistent with automatic grenade launcher, heavy machine gun and small-arms and light-weapons 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. The SMM also observed 26 airbursts of anti-aircraft weapon at 2-3km west and north-west of its position.
In the early evening hours of 21 June, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted burning houses in Shyrokyne. The situation around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) was quiet between 06:30 and 13:50hrs; during this period of time the SMM did not observe any ceasefire violations from its observation points located 1.5 and 3.5km west of Shyrokyne.
At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM was presented with two logbooks, compiled independently by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at the JCCC. The Ukrainian Armed Forces logbook recorded 95 ceasefire violations; 10 were attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 85 to “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). The Russian Federation Armed Forces logbook contained 158 ceasefire violations; 82 were attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 76 to ”DPR” and “LPR”.
The SMM visited a government-controlled checkpoint near Zaitseve (60km north-east of Donetsk) where it observed a queue of around 170 civilian vehicles waiting to enter “DPR”-controlled areas and 190 vehicles and a further 100 pedestrians waiting to enter government-controlled areas. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that the new government decree adding amendments to the T-144 order (see SMM Daily Report 18 June, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/165461) banning trucks carrying goods and passenger buses of more than nine people from crossing the checkpoint entered into effect on 19 June while pedestrians and other vehicles continue to be allowed to cross with the relevant permits. One male civilian interlocutor told the SMM that the average time to secure a permit at the Artemivsk co-ordination centre is three months and that that the average waiting time to cross is eight hours and the minimum is four. The SMM did not observe any provision of water or medical assistance and temperatures were above 30°C. The SMM also observed a special lane marked for women, children and vulnerable people.
In Krasnyi Lyman (government-controlled, 108km north of Donetsk), the SMM met the chief engineer of the town’s railway hub, which he described as Ukraine’s second largest for rail-transported freight. He told the SMM that there had been a 50 per cent decrease in traffic compared with pre-conflict figures of as many as 1,500 rail cars per day, and tracks needed repair due to damage by shelling.
Near Pavlopil (government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM co-ordinated a ceasefire through the JCCC to enable the recovery of the remains of two Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers who were killed in action on 20 June. The SMM monitored the recovery team, which was constituted of two medical staff and three unarmed Ukrainian Armed Forces servicepersons. The recovery of the remains took place without any incident.
In the Luhansk region the SMM observed several ceasefire violations, including 23 explosions consistent with incoming and outgoing heavy artillery fire in Toshkivka (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk) and 31 explosions consistent with incoming and outgoing artillery in Komyshuvakha (government-controlled, 66km west of Luhansk). In “LPR”-controlled areas, the SMM heard several explosions in Donetskyi and Kirovsk (50km north-west of Luhansk) and in Pervomaisk and Molodizhne (57 and 62km west of Luhansk).
In Vesela Hora (“LPR”-controlled, 16km north of Luhansk), the SMM monitored the continued exhumation of remains of Ukrainian Armed Forces servicepersons (see SMM Daily Reports 2 June http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/162051 and SMM Daily Report 4 June http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/162546). The exhumation was conducted by the Afghan War Veterans Association and the non-governmental organization “Union of People’s Memory: Ukrainian Public Organization for Searchers”. The SMM observed that the excavation team exhumed one body in decomposed state dressed in Ukrainian Armed Forces uniform in one location and a piece of a skull in another location some 2-3km away. The remains were loaded in a refrigerated van and transferred to the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the bridge in Shchastia (20km north-west of Luhansk).
In “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city, the SMM met the head of the “Luhansk coal mining trade unions”, who stated that the industry was currently facing difficult times due to the lack of socio-economic ties with government-controlled areas.
The SMM visited a soup kitchen in Sukhodilsk (“LPR”-controlled, 38km south-east of Luhansk). Employees told the SMM that before May, they had provided free meals to 675 people per day and currently provide daily meals for 195 vulnerable persons and deliver additionally to 50 persons with disabilities. The interlocutors stated that they were facing possible closure in July due to lack of food supplies.
The SMM met the “head of paediatrician department” within the “LPR” “ministry of health” in “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city, who said that the “LPR” was running a tuberculosis vaccination program for children of up to ten years of age. He also said that they were currently facing a general shortage of medicine and vaccines as well as a shortage of paediatricians, most of whom had left to government-controlled areas.
The SMM revisited four Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas the locations of which comply with the respective withdrawal lines.* At the first site, the SMM verified that all twelve previously recorded weapons were in situ, but, due to denied access to another part of the holding area the SMM could not verify the presence of eight anti-tank missile systems that were previously recorded.* At the other three sites, the SMM noted that some weapons were missing: one self-propelled howitzer at the second site, two multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (122mm BM-21 Grad) at the third site and three MLRS (122mm BM-21 Grad) at the fourth site.
Despite claims by all sides 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 main battle tank (MBT) (T-64), in ”LPR”-controlled areas six MBTs (T-64) and in government-controlled areas three MBTs (T-72). Additionally, an SMM UAV observed two artillery pieces in “DPR”-controlled areas east of Mariupol as well as a concentration of 39 MBTs, six towed artillery pieces and several Armoured Personnel Carriers and trucks in the vicinity of Ternove (“DPR”-controlled, 60km east of Donetsk) at an apparent training facility and a concentration of seven MBTs in the area of Komsomolske (43km south-south-east of Donetsk).
On 20 June, the SMM monitored a demonstration at Kulikove Pole in Odessa attended by approximately 35 anti-Maidan activists, mostly women aged between 35 and 60. A police presence of around 125 officers was observed at the event, which ended peacefully.
In Odessa city, the SMM visited the office of the head of the communist party’s regional branch, which remains occupied by the Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) since 12 June (see SMM Daily Report 15 June, http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/164746) and observed two unarmed young men wearing communist party T-shirts who identified themselves as Pravyi Sektor members and told the SMM that they were guarding the premises. The SMM did not observe any police presence.
In Kyiv, The SMM visited two branches of the “Sberbank of Russia” which, according to media reports had been damaged by two simultaneous explosions at around 2:00hrs on 22 June. At the first site in Obolon district the SMM observed broken windows and superficial damage to the exterior walls of the bank as well as broken windows in the apartment directly above it but no damages to the surrounding buildings. In Darnytsia district, the SMM observed damages to the bank’s main entrance but none to the surrounding buildings. Both sites were closed for business but staff were visible inside. The SMM observed no security agencies present and the police later said that investigations had been launched for charges of hooliganism.
On 21 June in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a march from the national opera house to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) headquarters organized by the civil movement “Vidsich” and attended by around 75 participants dressed as zombies with some wearing Russian style hats or St. George ribbons. The protestors accused the “Vesti” newspaper of spreading pro-Russian propaganda. The group constructed the imitation of a Grad system, which it left in front of the SBU building in protest of its lack of intervention in the newspaper’s activities. The police was present at the event, which ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Lviv, 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. 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 denied access to three Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas. The Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel on the ground told the SMM they needed the permission of their higher command.
- At another Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area, the SMM was allowed access only to one part of the facility without further explanation.
Interference with UAV:
- SMM UAVs experienced extensive interference in several “DPR”-controlled areas between Oktiabr (25km north-east of Mariupol) and Krasnoarmiiske (30km north-east of Mariupol); Sakhanka and Leninske (both 25km east-north-east of Mariupol); Komsomolske (43km south-south-east of Donetsk); and Ternove (60km east of Donetsk).
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.