Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 24 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 without a significant increase in its number. The SMM observed damage caused by shelling and conducted several crater analyses in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM also monitored celebrations for Independence Day which were held across the country on 24 August.
After a quiet night with no cease-fire violations heard at the SMM’s location in Donetsk city centre, 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 17:30hrs, 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 32 explosions and some exchanges of small-arms fire at distances ranging between 3 and 8km west-south-west, west-north-west, north-north-west and north-north-east of its position.
The SMM recorded several ceasefire violations in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (38km north-east of Donetsk), government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and government-controlled Berdianske (18km east of Mariupol). The highest number of ceasefire violations were registered whilst in Horlivka where, between 09:46 and 12:45hrs, the SMM heard 41 explosions - outgoing - at locations south-east and south of its position.
In the vicinity of Marinka the SMM was told by two Ukrainian Armed Forces officer present that shelling had taken place during the previous night. The SMM visited two sites in the town, where it observed that a projectile had penetrated through the concrete roof of the hospital, exploded its wall and broken its windows. The SMM analysed six fresh craters and assessed them to have been caused by 122mm calibre artillery originating from the south or the south-east. No casualties were reported.
In the vicinity of checkpoint No.13 near government-controlled Kominternove (23 km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed two fresh craters and assessed that they had been caused by 120mm mortar. The Ukrainian Armed Forces officer in Kominternove told the SMM that the shelling had taken place during the previous night.
The overall situation in Luhansk remained relatively tense with a similar level of ceasefire violations observed by the SMM as on the previous day. The SMM recorded several ceasefire violations in areas west of Luhansk city including government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Troitske (69km of west of Luhansk).
The SMM visited government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) to follow up on information received from a Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC in the village about shelling during the previous night. At the Ukrainian Armed Forces military position, the SMM found more than 30 impacts and conducted crater analyses on 12 of them. It assessed that 125mm high explosive fragmentation shells – fired from a southerly direction - had caused the craters.
In government-controlled Svitlychne, the south-eastern part of government-controlled Nizhniy (56km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two fresh impacts and carried out crater analysis, concluding that they had been caused by fire from a southerly direction. The type of weapon used was assessed to be 122mm Grad multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) rockets. The SMM noted that a gas pipeline was heavily damaged and electric cables were cut.
On 23 August, the SMM visited the government-controlled northern side of Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), where an elderly female resident told the SMM that shelling had taken place on 22 August and two houses had burnt down. The SMM saw that one civilian house was still smouldering. The SMM also observed one fresh crater on the road and assessed it had been caused by a calibre above 120mm.
In “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk), the SMM followed up on information received from an “LPR” member about shelling during the night of 22 August. The SMM observed heavily damaged houses including a destroyed roof and a kitchen by the shelling. It assessed that one impact had been caused by 122mm artillery originating from a westerly or north-westerly direction. No casualties were reported.
In "LPR"-controlled Pryshyb (33km north-west of Luhansk), an “LPR” member told the SMM that shelling had occurred during the previous night. The SMM observed and conducted analysis on two craters on the road, concluding that 82mm mortars (2B9 Vasilek) – fired from originating from a south-easterly direction – had caused them.
At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed a queue of 30 civilian pedestrians, female and male of mixed ages, waiting to enter “LPR”-controlled area. On the other side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint approximately 30 civilian pedestrians were queuing.
At the international border crossing between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in “LPR”-controlled Dolzhanskoe (84km south of Luhansk), the SMM observed 120 civilian trucks and trailers waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. The SMM saw that all trailers were loaded with coal. The SMM spoke to one truck driver who said that usually he had to wait for 24 hours, while sometimes it took 48 hours to proceed to cross the border.
The SMM also observed a queue of 65-70 vehicles, mainly civilian, waiting to cross into the Russian Federation at the international border between Ukraine and Russian Federation in “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartyzansk (64km south-east of Luhansk).
The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. In one area, all previously registered weapons were present and their serial numbers matched the SMM’s records. In the second holding area the SMM observed that two previously recorded howitzers (152mm 2A65 “Msta-B”) were missing.
The SMM met with the head of the “education department” of Horlivka city “administration” who stated that there were 12,838 children currently enrolled in schools and kindergartens in the city. According to the interlocutor, although 44 out of 53 schools and 30 out of 56 kindergartens have been damaged by shelling and some of them are under restoration, 51 schools are ready to open on 1 September.
The SMM observed Independence Day celebrations in Kharkiv (200 people attended), Odessa (500 people attended), Ivano-Frankivsk (350 people attended), and Kyiv (several thousand people attended). They passed off peacefully and well-organized, overseen by police officers.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, Kherson and Lviv.
*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 checkpoint in government-controlled Kremenivka (27km north of Mariupol, 78km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was not allowed to proceed further by two Ukrainian Armed Forces officer who did not give any explanation for denial of access. The SMM had to turn around.
- At an entrance to “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk) the “LPR” “commander” denied the SMM access to the area unless the SMM would go to in his vehicle to observe the reported shelling impact craters. He claimed that Ukrainian Armed Forces can hack into a tracking system of the SMM vehicles and use the data to shell “LPR” “military positions”.
- At a “DPR” checkpoint in the outskirts of Donetsk city centre, the SMM was stopped and told to wait while the “DPR” member made some phone calls. After 13 minutes the SMM was allowed to proceed.
- Two armed “LPR” members insisted on escorting the SMM during its visit to “LPR”-controlled Mykolaivka (15km east of Luhansk).
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.