Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 9 August 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 the parties and security considerations*. The SMM observed continued ceasefire violations at and around the Donetsk airport and at various locations along the contact line in the Luhansk region, and noted a number of indications of renewed violence in the Shyrokyne area. Four SMM vehicles were destroyed by fire in Donetsk. A demonstration took place in front of the SMM office in Luhansk.
The situation remained volatile at and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk). Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk) between 08:00 and 13:00hrs on 8 August, the SMM heard 25 explosions, seven incoming and 18 undetermined, and sporadic small-arms and light-weapons (SALW) fire, including heavy machine-gun fire. The explosions were heard at locations 2-20km north, north-west, north-east and west-south-west of the SMM’s position. Between 13:00 and 16:30hrs, the SMM heard an additional 69 explosions at locations 2-4km north-east, west and north-west of its position. In addition, it heard sporadic exchanges of SALW 2-3km to the north and north-west. A Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) at the railway station told the SMM that most of fire had been exchanged between groups in government-controlled Opytne (12km north-west of Donetsk) and at the airport.
On 8 August, the SMM noted that a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint 1.8km south-east of government-controlled Marinka (23km west-south-west of Donetsk) had been recently shelled, with a number of fresh craters and damaged sandbag and concrete emplacements evident. Checkpoint personnel maintained a high state of alert, apparently fearing sniper fire, keeping cover behind concrete reinforcements or in a bunker. Later, while stationary in the town, the SMM heard 13 outgoing SALW rounds fired 1-2km east and north-east of its position. After moving to the northern outskirts of the town, the SMM heard another nine outgoing SALW rounds fired 1-2km east and south-east of its position.
On 8 August, approximately 700m east of Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol), a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint commander refused to allow the SMM to continue on the road towards Shyrokyne*. The SMM observed a few flashes of light in Shyrokyne, which the commander said was indicative of sniper fire. Whilst in government-controlled Vodiane (19km east-north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three explosions to the south-east, in the vicinity of Shyrokyne. The following day, Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel on the north-eastern outskirts of Mariupol told the SMM that there had been intense fighting in Shyrokyne the previous night. Officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces attached to the JCCC, both in Mariupol and in “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), subsequently corroborated the information.
On 8 August, the SMM again facilitated repair work to shell-damaged water infrastructure between government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). As on the previous day (see Daily Report, 8 August 2015), work was suspended following a long exchange of small-arms fire in the area, including two outgoing rounds fired by “DPR” members approximately 50m from the SMM’s position.
On 8 August, at the last Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint before the contact line, near government-controlled Oleksandrivka (19km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed an ambulance with “Груз 200” [cargo 200; a designation for battle-field casualties] written on its sides. A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier present told the SMM that the ambulance contained the bodies of three deceased Ukrainian soldiers. “DPR” members at “DPR” checkpoints on the road leading to Donetsk – through which the ambulance had earlier passed on its way to government-controlled territory – subsequently corroborated the information.
At 7:25hrs on 9 August, at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Berezove (30km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a mortar round impacting 600-800m east of the checkpoint. More than 100 civilian vehicles were at the checkpoint at the time.
In the early hours of 9 August, the SMM – at its place of residence in Donetsk city-centre – noted that four SMM armoured vehicles in the adjoining car park were ablaze (see Spot Report, 9 August 2015). After fire-fighters had extinguished the blaze, the SMM noted that the four vehicles had been destroyed, and three additional vehicles had sustained minor damage. No SMM monitors were injured. The SMM informed “DPR” members who came to the scene and looked at the remains of the vehicles.
On 9 August, a peaceful demonstration – involving approximately 230 teenage boys and girls and young men and women – took place outside the SMM office in Luhansk city. Participants, who arrived together and seemed to have been co-ordinated by a number of people using radios, accused the SMM of what they alleged was a lack of objectivity. They dispersed after an hour and a half. Four “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) “police” cars were present.
On 8 August, close to a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed a 15-minute exchange of small-arms fire and mortars across the contact line.
On 8 August, the SMM observed a destroyed “LPR” checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk). It also noted a crater, in which it found the remnants of a 125mm tank round (T-72). Residents told the SMM that more than 25 tank rounds had been fired at the checkpoint the previous evening from the direction of Staryi Aidar (government-controlled; 20km north-west of Luhansk).
On 9 August, in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two impact craters, both containing the remains of 122mm multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) Grad rockets.
On 9 August, in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed two craters, 20m from a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint, caused, according to Ukrainian Armed Forces officers attached to the JCCC, by shelling the previous night. The SMM assessed that 122mm mortars, fired from the south, had been used.
On 9 August, at an “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM noted fresh impact craters, which it assessed to have been caused by 82mm mortars.
The SMM re-visited two “DPR” and two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons’ holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At one “DPR” site, the SMM noted three missing artillery pieces. “DPR” members refused to allow the SMM to check the serial numbers of the weapons present*. All weapons previously recorded at the other “DPR” site were in situ. At one Ukrainian Armed Forces site, the SMM noted the absence of three previously recorded mortar pieces, said by personnel on duty to have been sent to the Luhansk region. Three previously recorded artillery pieces were absent at the other Ukrainian Armed Forces site, which the commander said was due to maintenance.
The SMM observed the following weapons in areas that are non-compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines: in a “DPR”-controlled area, one main battle tank (MBT, T-72); and, in a government-controlled area, one MBT (T-64).
On 8 August, close to “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), outside of the weapons exclusion zone and near an “LPR” training ground, the SMM saw 22 MBTs (T-64), eight self-propelled artillery pieces and two armoured personnel carriers, all stationary.
In Ladyzhyn (380km east of Chernivtsi), close to the Moldova-Ukraine border, the deputy mayor told the SMM that the town – whose inhabitants are, inter alia, 75% Ukrainian and 15-20% Russian – has had no ethnic or religious problems. He added that the town – with a population of approximately 22,000 people – had a secure economic underpinning, with 11 big enterprises and around 200 small and medium-sized businesses.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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 the parties and security considerations, including mine threats, 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. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.
- Both on 8 and 9 August, “DPR” checkpoint personnel near “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south of Donetsk) aggressively demanded to see SMM monitors’ passports. The SMM was allowed on the first occasion to proceed after ten minutes, and five minutes on the second occasion, having made calls to relevant “DPR” members in Donetsk.
- At 15:15hrs on 8 August, close to a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), a soldier refused to allow the SMM to proceed, saying it was unsafe to do so as there had been fighting in the area in the morning.
- On 8 August, a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint commander, approximately 700m east of Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol), refused to allow the SMM to proceed in the direction of nearby Shyrokyne. He offered no explanation.
- On 9 August, “LPR” armed personnel refused to allow the SMM to enter “LPR”-controlled Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk), offering unspecified “security” reasons as an explanation.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.