Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 5 July 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 SMM observed a lower number of incidents at and around the Donetsk airport on 5 July, as compared to previous days. The SMM brokered a ceasefire, paving the way for demining and repair works on a water pipeline near the line of contact, between Maiorsk and Horlivka. The SMM visited Shyrokyne, confirming the withdrawal of “DPR” forces and severe destruction, especially in the southern part of the village.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.
The SMM observed a lower number of ceasefire violations at and around the Donetsk airport on 5 July, as compared to previous days. 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), on 4 July, the SMM heard, and in some cases saw, a total of 124 explosions, as compared to 27 explosions on 5 July. On 4 July, in the SMM’s presence, the JCCC representatives at the observation point at Donetsk railway station negotiated a ceasefire, which lasted for 40 minutes. In the area of Berdianske (government-controlled, 1.5km west of Shyrokyne, 18.5km east of Mariupol) and Sopyne (government-controlled, 16km east of Mariupol) the SMM observed movement of military trucks and vehicles; however, three male and two female residents told the SMM that there had been no shelling.
At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north 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. For 3 July, 53 ceasefire violations were indicated in the Ukrainian Armed Forces logbook, out of which 15 were attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and 38 to the “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). According to Russian Federation Armed Forces logbook, there had been 63 violations over the same time period, out of which 27 were attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 36 to the “DPR” and the “LPR”.
In Avdiivka (government-controlled, 15km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM was stopped by armed members of the Right Sector, who did not allow it to proceed further to a JCCC observation post*. Despite calls to the Ukrainian Armed Forces Major General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, and to the command of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO), the armed men continued refusing access. They insisted that they had their own orders and did not fall under the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
In a meeting with the SMM Deputy Chief Monitor in Donetsk on 4 July, the “DPR” “minister of defence” admitted that the “DPR” had at their disposal sophisticated equipment for jamming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). He claimed that “DPR” were not always able to distinguish between UAVs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and those of the SMM.
On 4 and 5 July, the SMM facilitated a ceasefire and monitored the process of demining, in preparation for repairs of a major water pipeline leading north-south along the line of contact, between Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north of Donetsk) and Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 29km north-east of Donetsk). The pipeline had been damaged by shelling on 29 December. The SMM was told that demining was completed on a 500m-long stretch of the pipeline and repair works had begun. The SMM was informed that the repair works would take up to two weeks and would benefit more than 2.5 million people in Donetsk region, including the residents of Mariupol.
On 3 July, in Mariupol (government-controlled, 102km south of Donetsk), the SMM met with two elderly women with disabilities displaced from the southern part of Shyrokyne. They described in detail how, at the end of May (see SMM Daily Report 2 June 2015), the remaining civilians in their neighbourhood had been targeted by sniper fire from the direction of the Kramatorsk pension building in the south-western part of the village (several were injured and one killed). They also said that in the last days before they were evacuated from the village by “DPR” on 5 June, their area had been shelled from the west, north, and north-east. Their house burnt down as a result of shelling on 3 June, and they had to spend two nights in their summer kitchen, they said.
On 4 July, the SMM conducted a two-hour foot patrol in Shyrokyne (“DPR”-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol), together with the Ukrainian Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, the Russian Federation Lieutenant-General – head of the Russian Federation side to the JCCC, as well as unarmed “DPR” members. The SMM once again confirmed that there were no remaining “DPR” members in the village. The SMM observed abandoned “DPR” positions, including command posts, bunkers, and military equipment and ammunition left behind by “DPR”. The SMM did not see any civilians and observed that approximately 80% of infrastructure and most of the houses in the southern part of the village had been destroyed beyond repair, including the house belonging to the two elderly women interviewed by the SMM on the previous day.
On both 4 and 5 July, in Berdianske, residents informed the SMM that a “volunteer member of a Ukrainian NGO” (woman) had visited them earlier on both days, asking them to move out of Berdianske due to danger of shelling. Similarly, on 5 July, in Sopyne, residents informed the SMM that they were visited by a person, who tried to convince them to move out of their houses. The SMM spoke to the head of the village council of Sopyne, who stated that he had not received any information regarding evacuation of civilians from the area.
On 4 July, at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Zaitseve (60km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed a 1.1km-long line of 211 civilian vehicles, waiting to cross the line of contact into “DPR”-controlled areas of the region, as well as another 1.1km-lineup of 200 vehicles on the other side, at the “DPR” checkpoint, waiting to cross into the government-controlled areas. In addition, the SMM observed groups of pedestrians, about 100 persons (the majority being women of different ages, as well as elderly men and few children), waiting to cross the checkpoint in both directions.
On 5 July, at the border crossing point at the Ukraine-Russian Federation state border near Uspenka (“DPR”-controlled, 72km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 44 civilian semi-trailer trucks and 110 civilian cars waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. At Novoazovsk border crossing point (“DPR”- controlled, 45km east of Mariupol), the SMM observed a queue of approximately 100 civilian vehicles and ten civilian trucks (mostly Ukrainian licence plates) waiting to enter Russia.
On 4 July, in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed ceasefire violations. Following up on a JCCC report that the Shchastia power station had been subjected to heavy weapons fire the previous evening, the SMM visited the site on 5 July and analysed five fresh craters, estimating that four had been caused by 82mm mortar and one – by a 122mm howitzer, originating from an easterly direction. At the hospital in Shchastia, the SMM was told that two workers of the power plant, wounded by shell fragments, had been brought in on the evening of 4 July and received first medical aid, prior to being transferred to a hospital in Novoaidar.
On 4 July, a representative of the Ukrainian Armed Forces informed the SMM that on the evening of 3-4 July, a government-controlled checkpoint (53km north-west of Luhansk) was heavily shelled. The SMM observed seven fresh craters, all of them at the transformer field of the power plant, identifying three of these as caused by 120mm and 80mm mortar fire. Based on the angle of the impact, the SMM estimated that the shells came from 1-2km south.
The SMM visited five “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas*, the locations of which are in compliance with the weapons’ respective withdrawal lines. At one site, the SMM noticed discrepancies in the heavy weapons serial numbers and found that one previously recorded 152mm artillery piece was missing, while, at another, one previously-recorded self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika) was missing.
Despite claims by all sides that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed weapons’ movement/presence in areas that are not compliant with the respective withdrawal lines. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed one main battle tank (MBT) (T-72). Upon visiting an “LPR” training site near Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed ten MBTs (T64), three armoured personnel carriers (APC) and eight military trucks, performing non-live fire exercises.
The SMM UAVs continued observing heavy military hardware in areas that are not compliant with the respective withdrawal lines. On 4 July, five MBTs were spotted in “DPR”-controlled areas east of Shyrokyne. Also in “DPR”-controlled areas, two MBTs were observed near Michurine (55km north-east of Mariupol), a concentration of ten MBTs and eight APCs near Sontseve (61km north-east of Mariupol), four self-propelled howitzers also in the same sector and a concentration of seven MBTs, 23 APCs, two pontoon bridge layers, as well as one 240mm mortar (Tyulpan) near Komsomolske (44km south-east of Donetsk). On the same day, the UAV also observed two MBTs in government-controlled area east of Mariupol. The following day, in “DPR”-controlled areas, the UAV spotted a self-propelled howitzer near Petrivske (77km north-east of Mariupol), a concentration of eight MBTs, 24 APCs in Komsomolske, and ten MBTs near Sontseve.
On 3 July, in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a march, which gathered around 700 participants, including members of the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor), volunteer battalions and Automaidan. The participants gathered on Maidan square, and proceeded along Instytutska and Hrushevskoho Streets, passing by the buildings of the Presidential Administration, the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada), the Cabinet of Ministers, and ended at European Square, where members of the Right Sector and volunteer battalions held speeches. The participants called on the government to declare the current conflict as a war, to reject the Minsk arrangements, and to break-off diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation. They also called for the release of members of volunteer battalions who have been detained by Ukrainian law enforcement, and the fulfilment of the demands of the “Maidan revolution”. The SMM observed that some of the participants carried flags of the Right Sector and of the Aidar volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Defence, as well as other flags, and, in the case of one group, torches. At the end of the event, some of the protesters burned tires. The SMM observed that the police maintained significant presence in front of the Presidential Administration, while fewer law enforcement officers were also present elsewhere along the route of the march.
On 2 July, at a youth summer camp in Hlyboka (10km south-east of Chernivtsi), the SMM spoke to a group of 34 children (aged 9 to 16) from the conflict-affected Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk) who are on a three-week holiday, financed by the district administration of Stanytsia Luhanska and the Luhansk regional administration. The children told the SMM that they wished to stay longer in the camp, because back home they heard shelling, saw weapons and military presence, and could not walk around freely, because the fields had been mined.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Lviv.
* 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 “DPR” and “LPR”. The SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.
- In Avdiivka, the SMM was stopped by armed members of the Right Sector, who did not allow it to proceed further to a JCCC observation post.
- On 5 July, at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding site, a guard told the SMM that his commander had denied the SMM permission to visit.
- On 5 July, a guard at a “DPR”-controlled border crossing near Ulianivske (“DPR”-controlled, 61km south-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that his commander had instructed him to ask the SMM to leave the area. No explanation was provided.
Interference with the UAV:
- The SMM UAV was subjected to video jamming on several instances on 4 July while flying over “DPR”-controlled areas, notably between Bezimenne (29km east of Mariupol) and Pavlopil (25km north-east of Mariupol), between Petrivske and Michurine, between Oktiabr (28km north-east of Mariupol) and Leninske (24km north-east of Mariupol), and between Sontseve and Zhukova Balka (101km north east of Mariupol).
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table