Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 29 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 fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days. The SMM conducted crater analysis. The overall situation in Luhansk remained tense.
The fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days. Between 08:42 and 12:21hrs, 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 heard and saw 69 explosions (mortar and artillery fire, mainly incoming), 34 bursts, and two shots from small arms and light weapons at distances between 5-10km west, northwest, northeast, south and southwest of the SMM location. Between 12:45 and 16:53hrs, the SMM heard 96 incoming and outgoing explosions from mortar, anti-grenade launcher, bursts of heavy machine gun and small arms fire, and saw 21 airbursts of 82mm mortars at a distance between 2.5-7km of the SMM position in directions west, north-west, north-north-west, north-east, and north. Both representatives of Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC observation post reported that there had been heavy shelling in Horlivka with fire thought to be from 120mm mortar, both outgoing and incoming, in the early hours of 29 June.
At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at the JCCC presented the SMM with two separate logbooks for both 27 and 28 June. For both days, both logs indicated a majority of ceasefire violations committed by the “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”).
Following up on information about shelling in Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 39 km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 27 June, the SMM visited the area and conducted crater analysis at six sites on Shashurina Street. At four of these sites, the SMM was not able to determine the exact type and calibre of the projectile, since either the shrapnel could not be found or had been removed. The SMM, however, was able to assess that three of these impacts must have been caused by a 120mm weapon, while the fourth by a weapon of at least 122mm calibre. On the same street, a group of around 30 residents (mostly middle-aged and elderly women), visibly upset, spoke to the SMM in the presence of local media. The residents insisted that the SMM observe also damage inside the flats, accusing the SMM of insufficient reporting on the civilian suffering in Horlivka area. A woman (late 50s) told the SMM that her neighbour (female) had been killed on 8 June. The SMM visited the victim’s flat and spoke to another neighbour who said that she had found the victim on her kitchen floor, killed by shrapnel. The SMM observed several other flats on Shashurina Street, in close proximity to the line of contact, most of which were damaged in prior shelling. Three flats had been hit directly and damaged severely. The SMM was unable to determine the direction or the type of weapon. Several interlocutors said the majority of the residents have no other place to go. According to them, there are many children in this area and the local primary school and kindergarten are operating, despite continuous shelling.
In Shakhta 6/7 ("DPR"-controlled, 43km north-north-east of Donetsk), on 27 June, the SMM spoke to a man (aged 59) who said his brother had been killed on 27 June as a result of a direct hit on his garage. The SMM spoke with a number of eye-witnesses and photo documented the impact site. The garage was completely destroyed and burnt out.
The situation in Luhansk remained tense. The SMM heard 30 explosions in Bobrove (government-controlled, 56km north-west of Luhansk) caused by rounds of 82 or 120mm calibre weapons. Near Mykolaivka (government-controlled, 76km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard artillery fire. The JCCC posts at Lysychansk (government-controlled, 90km west of Luhansk) and Novoaidar (government-controlled, 57km north of Luhansk) jointly informed the SMM of a total of 17 ceasefire violations - all attributed to the “LPR” - including the use of small arms, automatic grenade launchers, heavy machine-guns, mortars (82mm), anti-aircraft machine-gun and grenade launcher.
On 28 June, in government-controlled Bobrove (56km west-north-west of Luhansk), a woman (40 years old) told the SMM that, in the early hours of 28 June, she had heard continuous shelling from approximately 2km to the south and south-east, followed four to five seconds later by an impact at a location around 30m from her house. The SMM visited the site of an impact, where a round crater was observed in the sand (diameter 3m, depth 2m, approximately); however, the SMM could not ascertain the type of weapon since the remnants appeared to have been removed.
On 29 June in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM was informed by two women (aged 30) that, on the night of 28 to 29 June, there was an exchange of fire from rocket-propelled grenades. They said three pieces of grenades were found in a house next to the bus station. The SMM observed remnants of a grenade in front of a nearby shop.
On 29 June, three staff (women, middle-aged) of the village council’s office in Buhaivka (“LPR”-controlled, 38km south-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that an international aid organisation visits the village once every two to three months and raises mine awareness among children. According to them, so far none of the children had been injured by a mine or a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM also spoke to three women (around 60), who stated that pensions are paid in Russian roubles and some products are three times more expensive than in government-controlled areas.
The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, the locations of which complied with the respective withdrawal lines. At two of them, all weapons previously recorded were in situ. At a third site, the SMM was asked to wait and later was allowed in but was not permitted to verify the serial numbers*, but only to visually inspect the weapons.
Despite claims by all sides that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements/presence in areas that are non-compliant with the respective withdrawal lines: in government-controlled areas, the SMM observed three main battle tanks (MBTs) T-64, dug into the ground, in the immediate vicinity of a settlement.
On 27 June (on the occasion of the Constitution Day), on the Liberty Square in the centre of Kharkiv city, the SMM monitored a peaceful pro-unity rally, which gathered around 250 participants (mixed gender and age). Participants displayed two big flags – of Ukraine and of the EU - as well as numerous smaller flags of Ukraine and the Solidarity political party. The rally was organized by the Solidarity party. Approximately 120 police officers were present.
On 29 June, the SMM met the representatives of the regional branch of the non-governmental organization UKROP in Ivano-Frankivsk, who stated that last week they facilitated the transportation of the remains of fallen soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) by a non-governmental organization (unspecified) based in Dnepropetrovsk, which has more specialized vehicles at its disposal.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv.
* 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 – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and 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. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM by both the “DPR” and “LPR”. The SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.
- At a checkpoint in Olhynka (government-controlled, 42km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was asked to present national passports. The showed the SMM IDs and after ten minutes was allowed to proceed.
- Upon arrival at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, an armed “DPR” member said that in order to allow SMM inside to inspect weapons he had to call his commander for permission. After approximately 30 minutes, the SMM was allowed inside; however, the SMM was not permitted to verify the serial numbers of the weapons therein but only to check the weapons visually.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.