Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 17 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 in numerous locations. The SMM verified a number of civilian casualties on both sides of the contact line.
Positioned in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled city centre Donetsk, the SMM throughout the night heard over a hundred explosions – both incoming and outgoing – mostly at locations to the north-west. Earlier in the day – positioned 1km south-east of the destroyed “DPR”-controlled airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) – the SMM heard 67 explosions between 08:15 and 10:55hrs; and an additional 26 between 13:00 and 15:45hrs.
In government-controlled Sartana (15km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed and carried out analysis on 11 craters, concluding that either 122 or 152mm artillery rounds – mostly fired from the east – had caused them. Residents told the SMM that two civilians had been killed in the shelling – later confirmed by the morgue in Mariupol – and six injured. The SMM subsequently verified the reported injuries, visiting two hospitals in Mariupol, where it was told one of the injured included a girl who had lost one of her legs. The mayor of Mariupol told the SMM in Mariupol that the shelling in the village had occurred late the previous night, resulting in damage to 54 houses, five of which were completely destroyed. He added that electricity, gas and water supplies had been cut in at least some parts of the village because of the shelling. The SMM at the scene observed 25 partially and severely damaged residential dwellings.
In addition to monitoring the scene of shelling in Sartana, the SMM – through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – registered other indications of fighting in areas to the east, north and north-east of Mariupol. In “DPR”-controlled areas, SMM UAVs spotted nine main battle tanks (MBT) in Starolaspa (60km north-east of Mariupol), one MBT in Novolaspa (60km north-east-north of Mariupol), three artillery pieces in Oktiabr (30km north-east of Mariupol) and four towed artillery pieces covered by camouflage netting in Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol). In government-controlled areas, SMM UAVs spotted: one MBT in Hranitne (48km north-east of Mariupol), five self-propelled howitzers and one command vehicle in Pryovrazhne (20km north-east of Mariupol) and two heavy artillery pieces in Aslanove (15km north-east of Mariupol). Also, while flying over government-controlled Lebedynske (16km east of Mariupol), Lomakyne (16km north-east of Mariupol), Sartana and Talakivka (17km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM UAVs observed many fresh shelling craters both in fields and in inhabited areas.
In a roughly one-square-kilometre area in “DPR”-controlled Krasnyi Partizan (22km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 15 craters, carrying out analysis on eight of them. It assessed that 122mm Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) rockets – fired from the west-north-west – had caused the craters. Residents told the SMM that the shelling had occurred at around midnight on 16 August. They said there had been no casualties. The SMM observed shattered windows in and shrapnel-damage to exterior walls of private residences, a school and a kindergarten, and one completely destroyed private dwelling and a garage.
In “DPR”-controlled Panteleimonivka (26km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM – acting on “DPR”-supplied information about an alleged shelling incident in the village and intending to carry out crater analysis – was met on arrival by approximately 50 aggressive people – of mixed age and gender – screaming and blaming the SMM. Three of them – two men and one woman – threatened to harm the SMM monitors while some others filmed the confrontation. Three of the four armed “DPR” members – who had been providing an escort to the SMM – removed themselves from the area. After 30 minutes, the crowd allowed the SMM to conduct analysis on two craters. The SMM concluded that they had been caused by 122mm artillery rounds fired from the west-north-west. Some of those present told the SMM that one civilian had been killed in the shelling incident.
In government-controlled Avdiivka (15km north-north-west of Donetsk), the SMM conducted analysis on a crater, assessing that a 122mm artillery round – fired from the south – had caused it.
In government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM noted an unexploded 120mm mortar shell embedded in asphalt, with just its tail visible.
The situation in the Luhansk region was relatively calm but tense. The SMM did, however, note ceasefire violations, the most serious of which occurred close to government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), where the SMM heard three 120mm mortar rounds, outgoing from a location approximately 1km south-east of its position.
Near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a fresh crater, which it assessed to have been likely caused by a 120mm mortar round. Earlier, a Ukrainian Armed Forces commander present told the SMM that more than 20 120mm mortars had impacted in the area during the day.
Two kilometres south of “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Pryshyb (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a private residence with shattered windows and five craters around it, one in front and four in its back garden. Having performed analysis on two of them, the SMM concluded they had been caused by tank rounds fired from the north.
In government-controlled Kramatorsk (80km north of Donetsk), the director of a gas-electric welding and metal-cutting company told the SMM that production was down 17% compared to 2013, mostly due to a sharp decrease in sales to the Russian Federation which had constituted its main market before the conflict. He cited freedom of movement restrictions as a major impediment for the company. He added that the company had laid off approximately 10% of its workforce since the start of the conflict.
The head of the civil-military administration in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that the town’s pre-conflict population of 15,000 people had almost halved. He added that his administration was planning – pending security guarantees – to open a “humanitarian logistic centre” in the town, which would allow people on both sides of the contact line to access banking services and buy food and medicine.
The SMM re-visited two “DPR” and eight Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective Minsk withdrawal lines. At one “DPR” holding area, the SMM noted the absence of two 152mm artillery pieces, whilst at the other, all previously-recorded weapons were present. At Ukrainian Armed Forces sites, the SMM noted the absence of the following previously-recorded weapons: nine towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm); 10 MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm); four towed anti-tank guns (2A19 MT-12 Rapira, 100mm); four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm); four towed guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm); eight anti-tank missile systems (9P149 Shturm-S); and five self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152 mm).
In addition to weapons spotted by SMM UAVS in areas around Mariupol, the SMM observed the following weapons in areas that are non-compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines: in “DPR”-controlled areas, 18 T-72 main battle tanks – in two separate areas – and a 122mm artillery piece; and, in a government-controlled area, a military-type truck towing a 120mm mortar piece.
On 15 August at a focus group discussion in Ivano-Frankivsk, 36 internally displaced persons (IDP) told the SMM that IDPs faced no difficulties with host communities in the city. They did, however, say they faced problems with accommodation, and received little help from municipal agencies in this regard.
The SMM observed approximately 60 people – mostly young men – outside a Russian-owned bank in Lviv (sharing the same building with the SMM), urging people to boycott Russian goods and services. The half-hour peaceful protest – overseen by 10 police officers – included a display in front of the bank of damaged rocket propelled grenade launchers, meant, according to protesters, to symbolize what they see as the link between finance and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The SMM observed a Right Sector-organized protest in Babiche (60km north-east of Lviv), which saw approximately 50 people – five wearing camouflage – block the main Lviv-Lutsk road. The peaceful assembly – meant to highlight poor road conditions – was overseen by four police officers.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, 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.
- In Donetsk city, “DPR” “police” – explaining that they had received orders to do so – insisted that the SMM return to its residence.
- On 16 August in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces commander refused to allow the SMM to proceed, initially citing security concerns and later giving the fact that Ukrainian Armed Forces positions were ahead as a reason. The following day, at the same location, the commander again denied passage to the SMM, saying he could not guarantee the SMM’s security.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.