Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 21 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 situation in Donetsk and Luhansk region remained relatively calm. The SMM observed the planned movement of military equipment by both Ukrainian Armed Forces and “Donetsk People’s Republic”. In Minsk, at a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group, an agreement was reached within the security working group on the withdrawal of tanks and smaller calibre weapons.
Despite the SMM observing 12 mortar explosions at and around Donetsk airport (8km north-west of Donetsk city) and exchanges of small arms fire between government-controlled Pisky (15km north-west of Donetsk) and the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Volvo Centre (13km north-west of Donetsk), the situation in Donetsk region was relatively calm. In government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol) the SMM heard some small arms fire. Near government-controlled Novobakhmutivka (26km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard over 100 bursts of small arms fire.
The SMM saw damage to three apartments at Kuibysheva Street in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city consistent with arrow-type anti-armoured tank ammunition. The shell struck the north-facing external wall of one apartment and passed through three internal walls. The SMM assessed the tank shell to have been fired from a north-north-easterly direction. According to residents the incident happened during the early hours of 21 July, and caused no injuries. Residents told the SMM the shell had not exploded and was removed by “DPR” members.
In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (29km west of Donetsk) the SMM met together with the senior officer of a Ukrainian Armed Forces base and the head of the village council who said that Krasnohorivka came under heavy shelling in the early hours of 19 July. According to them, 16 houses were damaged and no one was injured. The SMM analysed two shell impact craters in a residential area and assessed the direction of fire as from the south-east.
The SMM were escorted by “DPR” members to two locations near the “DPR”-controlled villages of Sanzharivka (67km northeast of Donetsk) and Ozeryanivka (33km north-east of Donetsk) to observe the relocation of weapons with a calibre under 100mm. At one location the SMM saw nine infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1), eight of which were parked by a treeline next to open ground approximately 10km (by road) away from the contact line. In another location the SMM saw one main battle tank (MBT) (T-72) and six BMP-1 being moved to an area next to open ground, approximately 10km (by road) away from the contact line. The SMM recorded the registration and chassis serial numbers of the equipment.
The overall security situation in the Luhansk region remained calm, with no ceasefire violations observed by the SMM during the reporting period, though residents in areas along the contact line told the SMM that fighting takes place at night.
Two women in their fifties from government-controlled Nyzhnia Vilkhova (26km north-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that although the security situation had been calm in the village for the last two days, they heard firing every night outgoing from the direction of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk). The “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) “commander” from the checkpoint at the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska told the SMM that they had come under mortar and automatic grenade launcher (AGL) fire on the night of 19 July. The SMM saw fresh craters (likely caused by AGL) located in the vicinity of the checkpoint and assessed the fire to have originated from the government-controlled side of the bridge.
In an area between government-controlled checkpoint 29 (53km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM began facilitating dialogue between the sides on the ground in order to prevent cease-fire violations.
The SMM was escorted by one “LPR” “military police” vehicle to an area near “LPR”-controlled Kirovsk (50km north-west of Luhansk) to observe the withdrawal of weaponry (two MBT, three infantry fighting vehicles, three multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicles) away from the contact line.
The SMM re-visited three Ukrainian Armed Forces and two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, the locations of which were compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces holding area the SMM observed that one towed howitzer (D-30, 122mm) previously recorded at the location was missing, which personnel said was undergoing maintenance. The Ukrainian Armed Forces did not provide the SMM with serial numbers of other heavy weapons at the site, citing security concerns*. At one of the Ukrainian Armed Forces sites, the SMM verified that all weapons were in situ, following the last SMM visit to the site on 7 July (see SMM Daily Report 9 July 2015). At a further Ukrainian Armed Forces holding area, the SMM noted that weapons previously recorded at that location were no longer there, though personnel present claimed that such weapons had never been held at the site. At one “DPR” site the SMM verified that all weapons previously recorded were present. The SMM was prevented from accessing the other “DPR” site*.
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of the weapons’ respective withdrawal lines. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed two anti-tank guided missile systems (likely 9K111 Fagot or 9M113 Konkurs) at different locations. The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed a concentration of 11 MBTs, 31 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), four towed artillery pieces (probably 122mm D-30 howitzers) and at least 31 trucks in “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol). In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (19km west of Donetsk) one MBT was spotted. The SMM UAV was jammed flying over both government and “DPR”-controlled areas*.
The SMM observed the ceremonial opening of an international military exercise (Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015) in Yavoriv (53km west of Lviv). A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer told the crowd that 1,800 service personnel from 18 countries are participating, with the largest numbers provided by Ukraine (800) and the USA (600).
In Kyiv, the SMM attended a press briefing concerning alleged violations in campaigning for the upcoming by-election in Chernihiv on 26 July. All participants at the briefing, attended by current MPs (Radical Party and non-affiliated), the head of the Chernihiv regional council and a by-election candidate, alleged that election violations (including the payment of bribes) had taken place during the campaign. Also in Kyiv, the SMM monitored a protest of 15 persons (equal numbers of young men and young women) organized by the Democratic Alliance party in front of the Central Election Commission. Protestors accused the two main candidates for the upcoming Chernihiv by-election of electoral violations during the campaign. Six police officers and two National Guard soldiers (all men) watched the protest, which was peaceful.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, 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, particularly those controlled by the “LPR”, have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM. SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.
- In government-controlled Lebedynske (16km east-north-east of Mariupol), the SMM was stopped by personnel at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint and asked to provide a patrol plan. The SMM was allowed to proceed after 17 minutes.
- The SMM were prevented from entering a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area by guards who stated that they had received no orders to grant the SMM access.
- At a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area, the SMM was prevented from recording serial numbers.
Interference with the UAV:
- Between 03:16 and 05:52hrs, the SMM UAV experienced jamming while flying over “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km east of Mariupol) and Ukrainske (36km north-east of Mariupol) and also over government-controlled Krasnohorivka (19km west of Donetsk).
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.