Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 19 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 continued to observe ceasefire violations at and around Donetsk airport. The SMM observed shelling in Donetsk city centre for the first time in several months and observed the aftermath of the shelling in residential neighbourhoods there, while also hearing reports and observing the effects of shelling in and around government-controlled Avdiivka to the north. The situation in Luhansk region remained relatively calm.
The violence in and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport and city directly impacted residential areas during the reporting period and resulted in one civilian death, confirmed by the SMM. At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), on 18 July the SMM heard 112 incoming and outgoing explosions consistent with mortar (120mm) and antiaircraft gun fire at locations ranging from 3 to 5km and from the north to the west.  The SMM from its base in the city centre then heard more than 50 loud explosions assessed as incoming and outgoing fire in Donetsk city overnight. The security situation calmed during the day on 19 July, when the SMM observed only 24 explosions at and around the airport.
Meanwhile the SMM on 18 July visited the JCCC office in government-controlled Avdiivka (15km north-north-west of Donetsk), where Ukrainian and Russian Federation representatives described tank and artillery shelling for the second consecutive day (17 and 18 July) from the direction of “DPR”-controlled Spartak (10km north-west of Donetsk). They also reported that three civilians had been killed when a nine-storey apartment building and a house were struck by artillery. The representatives said that a JCCC observation point located in the apartment building, overlooking Donetsk airport, had also been seriously damaged in the shelling and rendered unusable. Because of ongoing insecurity, the SMM was not in a position to confirm these reports. The SMM observed a main battle tank (MBT, T-64) stationary in between apartment buildings in Avdiivka. The SMM also travelled to the settlement of Lastotska (government-controlled, 5km west of Avdiivka and 18km north-west of Donetsk), where it observed three unexploded howitzer rounds (152mm), 18 craters that it assessed to have been caused by howitzer rounds (152mm) and substantial damage to surrounding buildings consistent with artillery shelling. Furthermore the SMM on 18 July observed evidence in the form of shell fragments and fuses consistent with Ukrainian Armed Forces reports of artillery shelling on 16 July near the JCCC observation point in Luhanske (government-controlled, 59km north-east of Donetsk).
On 19 July the SMM observed the aftermath of shelling overnight and conducted crater analyses in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, visiting a total of 12 impact sites. Around 80 Universytetska Street and 69 Shchorsa Street (2.5km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed three fresh craters that it concluded had been caused by MBT fragmentation shells (125mm) fired from the north-west. At Hospital No. 23 at 46 Tselinogradska Street (4km west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed three fresh craters that it also concluded had been caused by MBT fragmentation shells (125mm) fired from the north-west. In both cases, the SMM was able to conclude the direction of fire to have been from the area of government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk) and Pervomaiske (17km north-west of Donetsk). Moreover, the SMM learned that a security guard at a construction site close to 69 Shchorsa Street had been killed – and the SMM observed damage to a smouldering building there, with a direct hit to the roof, and then visited Kalinina morgue and confirmed the death of the 31-year-old man.
The SMM was invited on 19 July by the Russian Federation Lieutenant-General, head of the Russian Federation side to the JCCC, to observe what he described as the withdrawal of “DPR” MBTs and weapons under-100mm calibre from the contact line. The SMM, along with media representatives, first followed the Russian Federation JCCC and “DPR” delegation to Lozove (“DPR”-controlled, 13km west of Donetsk city), where it observed a column of three MBTs (T-64) move approximately 1.28km south-east and into a forest near the town. Then around Novolapsa (“DPR”-controlled, 47km south of Donetsk), the SMM observed four BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles drive east approximately 4.3km and park in a forest – with the journalists filming the event with the use of a camera drone.
The SMM monitored several international border-crossing points between Ukraine and the Russian Federation during the reporting period and found Uspenka (“DPR”-controlled, 73km south-east of Donetsk) to be the busiest. On 18 July the SMM observed at Uspenka some 150 civilian cars, 50 civilian trucks and several civilian buses waiting to cross into the Russian Federation, with travellers reporting waiting times of up to 24 hours. The “DPR” “commander” said it was not possible to speed up the process of checking travellers’ documents.
The general security situation in Luhansk region remained relatively calm, though the SMM observed three ceasefire violations. The SMM, based on the sound, assessed that some heavy-machine gun and mortar fire had originated from a Ukrainian Armed Forces training ground next to Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM also heard three artillery explosions south-south-west of government-controlled Putylyne (44km north-west of Luhansk) and heavy machine gun and incoming mortar fire east-north-east of government-controlled Komyshuvakha (66km west of Luhansk).
The SMM also received several unconfirmed reports of fighting in Luhansk region, including mortar, automatic grenade launcher shelling and small arms fire. Local residents and Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel reported fighting around government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) on 17-18 July and around Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) nightly. On 19 July Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel in Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk) reported having being shelled by heavy weapons around midnight.
At the government-controlled crossing-point north of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), on 18 July the SMM observed four young men, who had walked across the bridge from “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled areas and who identified themselves as students from India, and had been refused passage despite having proper documentation. The Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) commander there said the crossing point was currently closed and said people who wished to cross the contact line should pass through Lysychansk (government-controlled 75km north-west of Luhansk), the only official crossing point still open in Luhansk region but also prone to closure depending on the security situation.
On 19 July the SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapon holding areas. While their locations comply with Minsk withdrawal lines, the SMM was not able to conclude that all previously recorded weapons were in situ at either site. At one site, the SMM was denied access to confirm the serial numbers on six towed antitank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), just as “DPR” personnel had previously denied access (see SMM Daily Report 9 July 2015). At the other site, the SMM observed that one self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) was missing.
On 18 July, the SMM revisited 11 Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapon holding areas. While their locations comply with Minsk withdrawal lines, at four of the sites the SMM was not able to conclude that all previously recorded weapons were in situ. At one site, the SMM observed that four multiple launcher rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) were missing and that the site had been abandoned. At a second site, the SMM observed three MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) were missing. The SMM found a third site abandoned, and with none of the six previously recorded self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in situ. At a fourth site the SMM observed that two of 10 previously recorded self-propelled artillery guns (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) were missing. Also on 18 July the SMM visited one Ukrainian Armed Forces holding area for the first time, concluding that its location complies with Minsk withdrawal lines, and recording six heavy mortars (2S12 Sani, 120mm). The SMM on 19 July revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces holding area, and concluded that its location complies with Minsk withdrawal lines and that all previously recorded weapons were in situ.
Despite claims by all sides that heavy weapons have been withdrawn, the SMM continued to observe the movement and presence of heavy weapons in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements. In government-controlled area, SMM observations included four MLRS (Grad BM-21), four MBTs (T-64) on trailers, nine armoured personnel carriers (BTR, including three with ZSU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns) and three military-type trucks carrying soldiers and all moving north-east and parallel to the contact line. In government-controlled areas of Luhansk region, observations included two main battle tanks (T-64), nine infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1) and three armoured personnel carriers as well as armed soldiers in combat gear.
SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), while monitoring both government- and “DPR”-controlled areas, on 18 July did not observe any ceasefire violations or presence of heavy weapons in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements. On 19 July, however, the SMM UAV observed in government-controlled Hranitne (46km north-east of Mariupol) two MBTs and one towed artillery gun. The UAV observed in “DPR”-controlled Yasne (30km south-west of Donetsk) outgoing mortar fire impacting government-controlled Berezove (31.3km south-west of Donetsk). On 19 July the SMM UAV was subjected to electronic interference of an intentional, military nature.* Also, the SMM observed the movement and presence of other military equipment and troops across Donetsk region, not in violation of Minsk but indicative of the build-up and, at times, the concentration of military resources. In “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed 31 military-type trucks and two military-type fuel trucks close to the line of contact.
In Lviv on 17 July the SMM monitored a peaceful protest by some 20 members of Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor), mainly men of various ages, in front of the Lviv University of Internal Affairs. The Right Sector members told the SMM that they were continuing to protest against what they described as a failure to properly investigate criminal cases. The following day the SMM observed that Right Sector members had removed their protest site, comprised of two small tents and piled tires, from in front of the Lviv Regional State Administration. Further, the SMM confirmed 18 July that Right Sector had also dismantled its checkpoint in Hamaliivka (13km north-east of Lviv) and, according to police, Right Sector also closed its checkpoint in Yasenivtsi (63km east of Lviv) on 14 July (see SMM Daily Report 15 July 2015). In Chernivtsi the SMM observed on 17 July that Right Sector supporters who had been protesting on the city’s central square since 12 July, following the events in neighbouring Zakarpattia region (see SMM Spot Report 12 July 2015), had ended their protest.
In Mykolaiv (60km north-west of Kherson), the deputy head of the district Social Policy Department for Mykolaiv region told the SMM on 16 July that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mykolaiv has been gradually decreasing, e.g., from 8,858 on 15 June to 8,250 on 15 July – with, he said, IDPs returning home to Donbas and Crimea or moving to other regions of Ukraine. Though the deputy head said the profile of the IDPs remains relatively consistent, with women, many with small children, making up the majority (70%) and pensioners representing the biggest social category (49%).
The SMM continued to monitor the situations in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kyiv 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 – 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, particularly those controlled by the “LPR”. The SMM UAVs cannot operate in Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.
Freedom of Movement:
- On 18 July the SMM was stopped and refused passage at a “DPR” checkpoint 5km west of Oktiabr (“DPR”-controlled, 87km south of Donetsk). “DPR” armed men threatened to open fire if the monitors or vehicles moved. After 48 minutes the SMM was allowed to leave the area, and returned to base.
Interference with the UAV:
- On 19 July, between 17:13 and 18:26hrs, the SMM UAV experienced severe jamming while flying north of government-controlled Mariupol. The jamming was wide-spectrum, interfering with or blocking all UAV communication and control channels. Due to this interference it was impossible to determine the directional source of the jamming. However, it was noted that the jamming was the strongest while the aircraft was flying over government-controlled Hranitne (46km north-east of Mariupol).
* 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 table here.