Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 16 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*. Ceasefire violations were recorded by the SMM in numerous locations, especially at and around Donetsk airport. A significant increase in ceasefire violations was observed in government-controlled areas north-west of Luhansk. The SMM observed damage caused by shelling and conducted several crater analyses in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The overall security situation at and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) remained tense. Between 08:15 and 17:50hrs on 15 August, 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 a total of 184 explosions mostly consistent with mortar at distances ranging between 1.5 and 20km south-west, west, north-west, and south-east of its position. This constitutes a significant increase in comparison with the previous day. At the same position on 16 August, the SMM heard a total of 21 explosions consistent with mortar or artillery and 10 bursts of heavy machine guns (HMG) 2.5-16 km north, north-east, and west of its position.
On 16 August in the residential Kirovskyi district on the south-western outskirts of Donetsk city the SMM visited 9 sites to follow up on information about shelling on 15 August. The SMM conducted six crater analyses in one site and assessed them to have been caused by 120mm calibre originating from the west and west-south-west. The SMM observed impacts in houses and apartment buildings including their yards, fences, and walls.
On 16 August in government-controlled Verkhnotoretske (22km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM followed up on information received from a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of heavy shelling at their base 1km south-west of the village on 8 August. The SMM saw at least four 2m deep craters in the asphalt assessed to have been caused by special ammunition capable of penetrating bunkers.
On 16 August in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (38km north-north-east of Donetsk) some male residents told the SMM that shelling had taken place during the previous night. The SMM observed three destroyed houses with fresh marks of recent shelling. Proper crater analysis was not possible as the scene had already been altered when the SMM arrived. At the scene, three middle-aged women aggressed the monitors verbally and physically, criticizing the SMM activities and expressing frustration about the shelling. When a “DPR” member present strongly recommended the SMM to leave due to the volatile situation, the SMM decided to depart.
On 16 August, the SMM was stopped at a “DPR” checkpoint in Olenivka, (“DPR”-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk) by “DPR” member who approached the SMM holding an unexploded shell in his hands. According to the interlocutor it had been fired at them the previous night. During a short conversation one of the “DPR” members present started criticizing the SMM for its activities and another one threw the shell into the SMM vehicle. After the SMM insisted, the “DPR” member took the shell out of the vehicle. Later, when analysing photo evidence of the shell, the SMM assessed that it had been a 122mm artillery shell.
On 15 August, in “DPR”-controlled Krasnoarmiiske (33km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM conducted crater analyses of eight fresh craters. According to a “DPR” member present, the shelling took place on 14 August. The SMM concluded that they were all caused by Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS, 122mm) originating from a westerly direction. Between 13:25 and 14:10hrs, the SMM heard seven explosions at an undetermined distance south of the village.
On the same day in government-controlled Andriivka (41km north-north-east of Mariupol), the SMM conducted crater analysis of eleven fresh craters caused by shelling on the previous day, according to information received from a resident. The SMM assessed that the impacts have been caused by 152mm artillery incoming from a north-easterly direction. Three residential houses were severely damaged and others slightly. The SMM was told by the residents that five civilians had been injured due to the shelling.
On 16 August the SMM visited “DPR”-controlled Telmanove (50km north-east of Mariupol) to follow up on reports by representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the JCCC that the village had been shelled in the early morning. The SMM analysed 16 craters and concluded that they were caused by MLRS (122mm BM-21 Grad) fired from a west-south-westerly direction. The SMM observed that some houses were heavily damaged and a transformer providing electricity to the village was destroyed.
The overall situation in Luhansk remained relatively tense with a significant increase in ceasefire violations observed in areas north-west of Luhansk, particularly in the wider area of Krymske (government-controlled, 43km north-west of Luhansk) including in the vicinity of government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), government-controlled Muratove (50km north-west of Luhansk) and in vicinity of government-controlled Orikhove Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk). In Muratove, between 14:56 to 15:35hrs on 15 August, the SMM heard a total number of 98 bursts of small-arms fire, including rounds of anti-aircraft guns (AAG) and HMG originated 8-10km west of its position as well as 12 incoming explosions 10km south-east of its position. On 16 August, between 10:39-11:21hrs, 2km east of “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard a total number of 37 explosions at a location 15km south-west and south-east of its position.
On 15 August, in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM visited three sites that according to a report from a Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC had been shelled on 14 August. All three sites were located near Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints or military unit locations in residential areas. No injuries were reported. The SMM observed shell impacts including four severely damaged houses and analysed craters in three sites. The SMM assessed that the craters were caused by fire originating from the south.
On 15 August, in “LPR”-controlled Lomuvatka (57km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM followed up on information received from residents of a neighbouring village about shelling during the night of 15 August. The SMM visited five sites in residential areas of the village and observed damage to windows and walls of a house, and downed power lines. The SMM analysed craters at one site, and assessed that they had been caused by howitzer (D30 122mm).
On the same day, at the “LPR”- controlled area 500m south-east of the bridge near Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM conducted crater analysis and assessed that 26 craters had been caused by 82mm mortar (14 of them had unexploded ordnances (UXO) in them), two impacts caused by an armour-piercing projectile fired from an infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1), 11 impacts caused by automatic grenade launcher (AGS), one crater caused by rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) (with UXO in it) and one crater caused by self-propelled-guns (SPG) originating from northerly and north-easterly directions. An “LPR” member told the SMM that shelling, including from tanks, had taken place at night on 14 August approximately 400m west of the bridge, in total four rounds of incoming fire from a northerly direction.
On 15 August the SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) observed in DPR-controlled areas: one ‘R-330ZH Zhitel’ jamming communication station and one main battle tank (MBT) in Michurine (54km east of Mariupol), one MBT in Starolaspa (60km north-east of Mariupol) and one MBT in the east of Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk). In government-controlled areas the SMM UAVs observed: one MBT in Starohnativka (54km east of Mariupol), five 122mm self-propelled howitzers 2S1 “Gvozdik” in Orlivske (20km north-east of Mariupol) and one MBT in Hranitne (48km north-east of Mariupol). On 15 August while flying over government-controlled Aslanove (17km east of Mariupol) the SMM UAV was jammed.
On 15 and 16 August, the SMM visited one and revisited another three Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. In two areas a total of eight MLRS (122mm BM-21 Grad) previously recorded were absent (see SMM Daily Report, 10 August 2015). In one area the SMM verified that all previously registered weapons were present and recorded additional weapons.
On 15 August, the SMM also revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations comply with the Minsk withdrawal lines. At two areas the SMM verified that all previously registered weapons were present.
On 15 August, in Odessa, the SMM observed various events organized within the framework of “Odessa Pride 2015”, a conference in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community. Camouflaged soldiers and 13 uniformed police officers were observed at one event at Primorskyy Boulevard. An incident occurred at 15:15hrs at the “Community Centre Queer Home Odessa”, where the group was holding a buffet reception attended by approximately 30 people (men and women equally, under 40 years old). A representative of the event organizing committee confirmed to the SMM that two male youths in camouflage dress and masks had opened the door of the venue, shouted at the participants and threw 2-3 fireworks inside, then had run off. According to the interlocutor, none of those inside the building was injured. A police officer confirmed the information and told the SMM that 13 young males had been invited for questioning related to hooliganism.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, 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 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.
- On 16 August, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk) the SMM was stopped by a Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel citing alleged fighting. After 45 minutes the SMM was allowed to proceed. The SMM did not notice any fighting or unusual activity in the area.
- On 16 August, at a “DPR” checkpoint north of “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), the SMM was stopped by “DPR” members who claimed that they had not been informed of the patrol in advance and its could not proceed without an escort. After 30 minutes the SMM was allowed to proceed without an escort.
- On 15 August, at a “DPR” checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Starobesheve, the SMM was refused entry to the city by a “DPR” member who cited security reason and it had to turn around. While the SMM waited at the checkpoint, civilian vehicles were passing freely in both directions.
- On 15 August the SMM was not allowed to enter a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area.
- On 16 August, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Zolote 3 (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM was stopped by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and strongly discouraged to proceed further to the south-east towards the contact line due to security reasons.
- At 08:35hrs on 16 August, at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM was asked by checkpoint personnel about nationalities of its monitors and purpose of its visit. After 5 minutes the SMM was allowed to proceed further. At 10:11hrs at the same checkpoint the SMM was stopped by checkpoint personnel and asked about the nationalities of monitors.
- On 15 August, at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding the number of the SMM monitors allowed to enter was restricted (two monitors) and the SMM was not allowed to approach the equipment and was therefore unable to verify the serial numbers and the exact type of the said pieces.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.