Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 8 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 sharp increase of ceasefire violations at and around the Donetsk airport. The situation around Shyrokyne was calm. The SMM continued to facilitate demining and repairs at a major water pipeline between Maiorsk and Horlivka.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.
The situation at and around the Donetsk airport was volatile. Between 08:00 and 18:00hrs, 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 heard nearly 500 explosions, consistent with incoming and outgoing mortar fire, as well as bursts consistent with small-arms, automatic grenade launcher, heavy machine-gun (HMG) and anti-aircraft gun fire. The SMM assessed that the explosions occurred at locations to the north, north-east, west and north-west, at distances between 3 and 7km from its position. During the afternoon, constant and sustained exchange of fire was heard between 12:35 and 17:00hrs, mostly from the area of Pisky and Vodiane (government-controlled, 7 and 8km west of Donetsk, respectively). Between 17:00 and 18:02hrs, the exchange of fire was intermittent in the area of Spartak (“DPR”-controlled, 10km north-west of Donetsk). The JCCC tried to negotiate several ceasefires throughout the afternoon, one of them at 16:33hrs was considered by the JCCC to be successful and lasted for ten minutes.
The situation in and around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) remained mostly calm. From its observation points located 1.5km and 3.5km west of Shyrokyne, the SMM heard 18 distant explosions, north-west of its position.
In Mariupol, the SMM observed a press conference in which 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as representatives of volunteer battalions, expressed disagreement with what they referred to as the demilitarization of Shyrokyne. Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) representatives stated that their units do not intend to comply with a possible governmental order to pull out of the area. Representatives of the National Guard Donbas volunteer battalion stated that they had not received orders to withdraw.
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 to the JCCC. Both recorded 91 ceasefire violations on 7 July. The Ukrainian Armed Forces logbook attributed 20 to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 71 to “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). The Russian Federation Armed Forces logbook attributed 46 to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 45 to “DPR” and “LPR”. Both the Lieutenant General, representative of the Russian Federation Armed Forces to the JCCC and the Ukrainian Armed Forces chief of staff noted a significant increase of ceasefire violations especially in the areas of the Donetsk airport and Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 29km north-east of Donetsk).
For the fifth consecutive day the SMM facilitated and monitored a local ceasefire and repair works of a major water pipeline leading north-south across the contact line between Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north of Donetsk) and Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 29km north-east of Donetsk), following demining of the area which was also facilitated and monitored by the SMM (see SMM Daily Report 6 July 2015). During the day, 42 workers of the Voda Donbassa company carried out repair works. By now, four out of 11 impact holes have been repaired, with work completed along half of the 2.1km-long line which had been damaged.
The SMM, at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint north of Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 43km north-east of Donetsk), observed a queue of 172 civilian vehicles waiting to cross into the “DPR”-controlled area, which grew to 235 civilian vehicles later in the day when the SMM also observed a queue of 135 civilian vehicles waiting to cross into the government-controlled area.
At the international border crossing point between Ukraine and the Russian Federation near Uspenka (“DPR”-controlled, 72km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 80 civilian vehicles and 40 civilian trucks waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. Later during the day, the SMM observed around 50 civilian cars and 43 civilian trucks at the same location.
The SMM did not observe any ceasefire violations in the Luhansk region but several interlocutors claimed to have heard early-morning incoming shelling in Vilkhove (government-controlled, 22km north-east of Luhansk).
The SMM met the director of a humanitarian aid distribution centre in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Luhansk city, which according to the interlocutor provided assistance, mainly food to 1,120 persons on a monthly basis, including pensioners, persons with disabilities, families, unemployed persons, cancer and diabetic patients and patients on haemodialysis. The humanitarian aid was mainly received from the Russian Federation, the director said.
The SMM visited an orthodox church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate in Luhansk city where a priest told the SMM that since January 2015, the church had been providing food to 300 vulnerable persons on a daily basis. The priest informed the SMM that the church mainly received humanitarian aid from the “LPR” “authorities”, the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate and local residents.
On 7 July, the SMM revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, the locations of which complied with the weapons’ respective withdrawal lines. The SMM verified that all previously recorded weapons were in situ and at one of these sites observed three mobile anti-aircraft batteries not previously recorded. On 8 July, the SMM revisited five “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, the locations of which complied with the weapons’ respective withdrawal lines. At one of these sites, all weapons were in situ, while at the second a 122mm artillery piece continued to be missing. At a third site, the SMM was only allowed to count the weapons, but not to check their serial numbers.* The fourth site had been relocated allegedly due to the local farmers’ claim to the property and the SMM observed that two multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS BM-21) continued to be missing. At the fifth site, the SMM saw that one howitzer (122mm 2S1 Gvozdika) was missing. The SMM was only allowed to count the weapons from a distance and could therefore not check the serial numbers on the weapons.*
Despite claims by all sides that heavy weapons were withdrawn, the SMM observed two self-propelled howitzers and two main battle tanks (MBT) (T-72) in government-controlled areas.
The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) continued to observe concentrations of military hardware in “DPR”-controlled areas close to the contact line: seven MBTs, 30 armoured personnel carriers (APC) and at least 37 military trucks in and around “DPR”-controlled Komsomolske (75km north-east of Mariupol); nine MBTs, eight APCs and one military truck at a location south of Sontseve (61km north-east of Mariupol); and four MBTs, 26 APCs and 34 military trucks in Bezimenne (29km east of Mariupol). The SMM UAV also spotted three MBTs near Michurine (61km north-east of Mariupol) and two MBTs near Sakhanka (24km east of Mariupol).
On 7 and 8 July, the SMM UAV was subjected to multiple incidents of jamming around Sakhanka, Zaichenko, Oktiabr, Svobodne (“DPR”-controlled, 24, 25 and 26 and 49km north-east of Mariupol, respectively) and Shyrokyne.
On 7 July in the Odessa Primorskyi District Court, the SMM observed a protest of some 45 people, mostly men, denouncing what they called corruption in the court system and, in particular the release on bail on 4 July of two senior police officers arrested on corruption charges. The SMM observed a bus with 15 riot police officers parked 500 meters from the court and the event was peaceful when the SMM departed at 16:25hrs.
The SMM monitored the regular weekly meeting of the Maidan Coordination Council in Odessa where representatives of the Right Sector announced that the 12th Reserve Right Sector volunteer battalion needs living quarters for 15 to 20 new members, and that the premises of the former communist party office, which they have occupied since 12 June, will be used (see SMM Daily Report 15 June 2015).
The staff at the Mechnikov hospital in Dnepropetrovsk told the SMM that they had admitted 85 Ukrainian Armed Forces wounded servicepersons between 15 June and 5 July 2015; 69 from the Donetsk region; four from the Luhansk region; and 12 from unknown locations. The wounded servicepersons were being transported from Marinka, Shyrokyne, Avdiivka, and Mariupol for treatment. Shrapnel and explosives are the cause of majority of the trauma and six patients have gunshot wounds. Many of the servicepersons suffer from combat related injuries such as shock and cerebral concussions.
In Kyiv, the SMM observed a press conference by the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Humanitarian Centre where its representatives said they faced difficulties in crossing government-controlled check points along the contact line during the past weeks and, as a result, could not deliver aid to Donbas. They proposed a unified “customs clearance” point in Mariupol to ensure humanitarian transports are processed more efficiently.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi 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.
- At two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, the present “DPR” armed members prevented the SMM from checking the serial numbers of heavy weapons. Therefore, the SMM was unable to verify whether weapons previously registered were in situ.
(For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.)