Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 10 August 2015
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 overall situation at and around Donetsk airport remained tense. The SMM observed a significant increase in ceasefire violations in areas east and north of Mariupol, particularly in the wider area of Starohnativka.
The situation continues to be volatile at and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk). Between 13:00 and 18:00hrs, the SMM, from its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk) heard a total of 14 explosions consistent with mortar or artillery impacts, two incidents of sporadic small arms fire and one airburst 2-7km north, north-east, west and north-west of its position.
The security situation remains calm in Mariupol, however there was a significant increase in ceasefire violations in areas east and north of the city, particularly in the area of government-controlled Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk). The SMM followed up on reports from a “DPR” member on heavy shelling on 9 August in and around “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk). In “DPR”-controlled Starobesheve (32km south-east of Donetsk), a representative of the city hospital told the SMM that three “DPR” members had been killed and an unspecified number of civilians had been wounded in the shelling. The SMM also monitored the situation near “DPR”-controlled Styla and observed no military activity, but it could not enter the village due to security concerns. In government-controlled Mykolaivka (39km south-south-west of Donetsk) between 14:40 and 15:25hrs, the SMM heard a total of 11 explosions including two explosions assessed as incoming 82mm mortar rounds and a few bursts of small-arms and light-weapons (SALW) including heavy machine gun (HMG) and grenade launcher fire 2km north and 2-3km east of the village.
A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC headquarters in Soledar informed the SMM of the attack in Starohnativka with heavy weapons over the reporting period. According to the interlocutor, 400 armed persons attacked Ukrainian Armed Forces positions and in response the Ukrainian Armed Forces was forced to use heavy weapons prohibited according to Minsk.
In government-controlled Dzerzhynsk (58km north of Donetsk) the SMM visited three sites shelled on 8 August, based on a report from a Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC in Dzerzhynsk. The SMM conducted crater analysis and concluded that they had been caused by 152mm calibre artillery from a south-south-easterly direction. Between 10:35 and 10:55hrs, the SMM heard four incoming mortar rounds and two bursts of machine-gun fire.
In government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol), at 08:00hrs, the SMM heard sporadic SALW fire 4km north-east of its position, consistent with the direction of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol). Later at 09:58hrs, the SMM heard one undetermined explosion in the area of Shyrokyne. The SMM visited government-controlled Lebedynske (16km east of Mariupol), where the resident in the village informed the SMM of shelling on 9 August. The SMM analysed three out of ten craters at the outskirts of the village and concluded that they were caused by 120mm mortars fired from an easterly direction. Between 14:28 and 15:11hrs the SMM heard a total of 22 explosions east of its position and a round of heavy-machine gun (HMG) fire and one burst of a 33mm anti-aircraft gun. In government-controlled Vodiane (24km north of Mariupol), at 17:05hrs, the SMM heard sounds consistent with SALW fire in the distance to the east of its position.
In government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten explosions of artillery north of its location.
In government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM followed up on information from a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer about alleged shelling on 9 August. At two sites, the SMM analyzed a total of eight craters and assessed them to have been caused by artillery gun (122mm) fire originating from the east and north-east.
In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC showed the SMM a crater which he said was a result of shelling during the night of 8 August. The SMM analyzed the crater and assessed it to have been caused by 120mm mortar from a south-westerly direction.
The SMM revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At the first area the SMM observed that all previously recorded weapons were again missing as during the previous visit on 24 July (see SMM Daily Report 24 July). At the second area, 17 howitzers were missing and the serial numbers of one of the present 11 howitzers did not match the number recorded during last SMM visit (see SMM Daily Report 24 July). The SMM also revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At the first “DPR” area, the SMM verified that all previously registered weapons were present. At the second “DPR” area six previously registered self-propelled howitzers 122mm (Gvozdika) were missing.
The SMM observed the following weapons in areas that are non-compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines: in a government-controlled area, one main battle tank (MBT), and one tank (T-64, 125mm calibre).
On 8 August, at Kulykove Pole in Odessa, the SMM monitored the weekly demonstration and commemoration of victims of 2 May 2014 events attended by 50 anti-Maidan activists, mostly middle aged to elderly women and the counter-demonstration attended by 15 pro-Maidan activists, mostly men of different ages. Seventy police officers formed a line around the anti-Maidan group, separating them from the pro-Maidan group. There were verbal exchanges but no physical contact between the groups and the gatherings ended peacefully.
On 8 August, in Kyiv the SMM monitored a public protest on Independence Square (the Maidan). The gathering consisted of approximately 20 middle-aged males and females who were holding Ukrainian, Georgian and Chechen flags and displaying banners expressing their concerns about Russian policies in Ukraine and in Chechnya. No police officers were present. The gathering ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi.
*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.
- The SMM was prevented from passing a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk).The SMM left the checkpoint due to nervous signalling of a soldier.
- At a checkpoint near government-controlled Troitske (Popasna area) (69km north-west of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer denied the SMM passage.
- At a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (40km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM was allowed to proceed after 20 minutes, having made a call to the relevant “LPR” member.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.