Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 8 September 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*. The SMM recorded 231 explosions in Donetsk region and 16 explosions in Luhansk region. The SMM observed the movement of military hardware in Donetsk region.
From its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM recorded 125 explosions. Both the Russian Federation Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Armed Forces JCCC officers present at the railway station attributed 110 explosions to controlled detonations at and around the destroyed Donetsk airport.
In Donetsk city centre the SMM monitored commemorations of the liberation of the Donbas area at the end of World War II, attended by up to 1,000 people, and organised by Donetsk “city hall”. While present in the city centre, the SMM heard 58 explosions which the SMM assessed to be consistent with artillery or mortar fire between 10:30 and 12:07hrs. The SMM could not confirm the type of weapon or whether the explosions were incoming or outgoing.
At the JCCC Headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM met with the Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, who stated that according to their observations the ceasefire violations had decreased over the 24 hour period ending at 23:59hrs on 7 September, but the overall security situation along the line of contact remained tense.
At the Donetsk railway station, the SMM learned from a local employee that since the introduction of the new floating exchange rate between the Ukrainian Hryvnia and the Russian Rouble (see daily report 4 September 2015), the price of a coffee almost doubled. A local businessman said his prices had doubled as his supplies came from government-controlled territory and were more expensive due to the new exchange rate. A female shop assistant (aged 50) told the SMM that the price for water had doubled owing to the new exchange rate.
Eight residents (mixed age and gender) from government-controlled Malinivka (48km north-west of Mariupol) told the SMM that they were concerned about heating their homes over the upcoming winter as coal costs 3000 Ukrainian Hryvnia per tonne and their pension was 1000 Ukrainian Hryvnia per month. The interlocutors said a household needs three to four tonnes of coal over the winter.
In Luhansk region, the overall situation observed by the SMM remained calm with one incident of ceasefire violations recorded in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), where the SMM heard 16 explosions assessed as heavy artillery at a location south-west of its position.
In “Lugansk People’s Republic” ("LPR")-controlled Frunze (40km north-west of Luhansk) the commander of an “LPR” checkpoint stated that the situation had been calm since the beginning of September.
The SMM visited three “LPR” training areas. In Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed 18 static main battle tanks (T-64 and T-72). In Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed two BMPs. In Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed eight self-propelled howitzers. No live fire exercises were observed and all training areas corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines.
The SMM visited the Ukrainian-Russian Federation international border crossing point at government-controlled Demyno-Oleksandrivka (182km north-west of Luhansk). According to the commander (male, early 30s) transit of any kind was forbidden as the border crossing point was closed in February 2015 by decree of the Cabinet of Ministers. According to the interlocutor, the situation was calm and no illegal activities had been detected in the area.
The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area whose location corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines and found that 12 previously recorded towed field howitzers (2A65 MSTA B 152mm) at this location were missing. The SMM was allowed to record the serial numbers of every weapon present for the first time.
The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At both areas, all previously-recorded weapons were present.
In government-controlled Donetsk region, the SMM observed considerable movement of military hardware. At government-controlled Konstantynopil (57km west of Donetsk) the SMM observed one tank (T-64) moving westwards. Near government-controlled Iskra (90km west of Donetsk) the SMM observed eight fuel trucks moving eastwards followed by an armoured military truck with 12 military personnel and five IFVs (four BMP-1 and one BMP-2) on flat-beds heading west. While in government-controlled Havrylivka (95km west of Donetsk) the SMM observed one infantry fighting vehicle (IFV, BMP-1) with an antitank guided missile (FAGOT) mounted, travelling west. Between government-controlled Havrylivka (95km west of Donetsk) and Donetsk, the SMM observed two empty flat-beds heading east. In government-controlled Bahatyr the SMM observed one BMP-1 and one BMP-2 (64km west of Donetsk) on flat-beds heading west.
The SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In “LPR”-controlled Chornukhyne (65km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed four anti-tank guns (100mm, MT-12 “Rapira”), attached to their towing trucks and five “Ural” trucks on the roadside.
In Mykolaiv (60km north-west of Kherson) the SMM met the deputy commanding officer of the 79th Airmobile Brigade who confirmed media reports of an abduction of three Ukrainian soldiers at the administrative boundary line between mainland Ukraine and Crimea. He said that on 5 September between 13:00 and 13:20hrs, the Border Guard shift commander had observed three soldiers (unarmed, in civilian clothes) forced by up to ten individuals in military type uniform (no emblem could be identified) into two military type vehicles 700-1,000m south of the Ukrainian Border Guard position at Cape Kutara(123km south-east of Kherson).
In Hrubno (150km east of Chernivtsi), which is predominantly ethnic Russian, the SMM spoke with the Deputy Principal of the elementary school. She said that 55% of classes are instructed in Russian language and 45% in Ukrainian language. Classes taught in Ukrainian have increased compared to last year, due to the wishes of parents who want their children to learn the official language to be more prepared for higher education institutions. She further said that the school, which had 147 pupils from grades 1-11, had recently recruited a part-time teacher to teach “protection of motherland” and first aid classes.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate:
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. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.
Besides the above-mentioned general restrictions that continue, the SMM was on 8 September not subject to any specific restriction of its freedom of movement.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.