Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 14 August 2015
This report is for the media and the general public.
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 damage caused by shelling and conducted several crater analyses. The SMM’s UAVs were jammed both over government-controlled and “DPR”-controlled areas.
The overall security situation at and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) remained tense, although less ceasefire violations were recorded by the SMM, in comparison to previous days. From the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM recorded between 09:00 and 12:55hrs 13 explosions and one outgoing burst at a distances ranging between three to more than 15km in multiple directions. Between 10:00 and 12:55hrs the SMM observed an intensive smoke cloud rising above government-controlled Muraveynik (12km north-west of Donetsk). Between 12:55 and 16:15hrs the SMM heard approximately 13 explosions occurring at locations three to six kilometres north-west, and five explosions at locations two to three kilometres north-east of its position. The SMM heard and observed eight incoming explosions of artillery rounds at a distance five to six kilometres north-west of SMM’s position, fired from a north-easterly direction.
The SMM continued to facilitate local ceasefires which allowed for water pipeline repairs to be completed between “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Maiorsk (44km north of Donetsk). The head of Voda Donbassa explained, that water was already running through the repaired pipeline, in order to check the repaired elements of the pipeline for leaks. He reiterated the intention of Voda Donbassa to start with the repair of a third water pipeline on 17 August 2015.
Following information provided by the Russian Federation Armed Forces representative to the JCCC about shelling in Horlivka during the night of 13 August killing one man, the SMM observed damage to a house located in Darnitskaya Street 32. Two local residents separately told the SMM that shelling had taken place from 00:30 to 01:30hrs during the night of 13 August. The SMM observed that the western façade of the house had collapsed and according to the SMM’s estimates, the damage was caused by a 120mm mortar round, originating from a westerly direction. Inside the destroyed house, the SMM observed traces of blood.
Following information received by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at a checkpoint outside of government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) about shelling of the town in the early morning hours, the SMM went to the spot to conduct crater analysis and assess the damage. Windows and fences of several houses were damaged by shrapnel. The SMM observed ten impacts and conducted five crater analyses. According to the SMM’s assessment, all five impacts were consistent with 120mm mortar ammunition fired from an easterly direction. No casualties or injuries were reported.
In government-controlled Chernenko (86km south of Donetsk), local residents told the SMM about shelling between 21:30 and 03:00hrs. The SMM observed a barn which was completely destroyed as it collapsed due to the detonation and according to its owner 20t of hay were ruined as well. The SMM counted six craters and estimated that the impacts were caused by 100mm artillery fired from a north-north-easterly direction.
At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Volnovakha (government-controlled, 53km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM observed about 290 civilian vehicles waiting in order to enter “DPR”-controlled area. 200 civilian vehicles were queuing in the opposite direction, waiting to enter government-controlled area. The SMM spoke to several passengers, mainly families with small children, on both sides of the queue, who said that they had been waiting between eight and 11 hours. Ukrainian authorities at the checkpoint told the SMM that waiting time and queues are long due to thorough vehicle checks.
In government-controlled Zolote-4 (60km north-west of Luhansk), local residents spoke to the SMM about a nearby unofficial crossing point between government-controlled and "LPR"-controlled areas. The interlocutors stated that more than 200 civilians were crossing daily from the "LPR"-controlled area to the local market in Zolote-4. According to the interlocutors, there was a mined path which people used to cross the line of contact. According to them, "LPR" did not allow people from the government-controlled side to cross into the "LPR"-controlled areas. Only those registered as living in "LPR"-controlled areas are permitted to cross into government-controlled areas and then return.
In government-controlled Katerynivka (62km west of Luhansk) an elderly woman showed the SMM a house in Tsentralnaya Street 54 with an unexploded rocket propelled grenade (RPG) projectile in its yard. The SMM observed a hand written script on the projectile: "Hello to the separatists from Cherkassy".
On 14 August, at 09:10hrs, the SMM observed a convoy from the Russian Federation travelling along Krasnodonska Boulevard in “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city. The SMM counted 32 white trucks with Russian Federation insignia and three support vehicles. At 12:55hrs, the SMM observed the convoy from the Russian Federation travelling in a direction two kilometres south-east of “LPR”-controlled Novosvitlivka (16km south-east of Luhansk). 42 white trucks with Russian Federation insignia and three support vehicles were observed.
The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At one area the SMM concluded that all the weapons were present. At the second holding area a “DPR” member told the SMM that 11 Grad Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) 122mm (BM-21) had been transported to Donetsk city and denied the SMM access to the holding area. At the third holding area the SMM was also denied access.*
The SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled Khartsyzk, (34km east of Donetsk) the SMM observed one multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicle (MTLB) with surface to air missiles, assessed to be 120mm SA13.
In Kharkiv, the Dzerzhinsky district chief of police told the SMM that on 13 August police detained a robbery suspect and discovered that he had a hand grenade in his possession. According to the interlocutor, the police conducted a search of the suspect’s residence and found a grenade launcher. The suspect, a resident of Kharkiv, was charged for possession of illegal weapons and explosives.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Lviv and Odessa.
*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 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.
- At a “DPR” heavy weapon holding area, the SMM was told to wait by a “DPR” member while he was calling his commander to ask whether SMM would be allowed access to the area. After a few minutes the “DPR” member informed SMM that the commander did not give permission to verify serial numbers of heavy weapons or to enter the area.
- At another “DPR” heavy weapon holding area, the SMM was not allowed to enter the area by a “DPR” member. No explanation was given.
Interference with the UAV:
SMM UAV was subjected to video jamming on several instances on 14 August while flying over government as well as “DPR”-controlled areas, notably in the vicinity of “DPR”-controlled Sontseve (61km north-east of Mariupol) and government-controlled areas of Volodarske (20km north-west of Mariupol), Novomykhailivka (40km south-west of Donetsk) and Zorya (30km north of Mariupol).
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.