Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 15 September 2015
This report is for the media and 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 observed no ceasefire violations at and around the Donetsk airport. Several ceasefire violations were recorded in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions.
The SMM observed an overall calm situation in the Donetsk region. At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), during the whole reporting period, the SMM recorded no ceasefire violations.
In government-controlled Myrne (40km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions south of its position. In government-controlled Hranitne (47km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM also recorded three undetermined explosions.
The SMM accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the JCCC and escorted by an armed “DPR” member, visited “DPR”-controlled Lohvynove (56km north-east of Donetsk) located 6.5km north-west Debaltseve (56km north-east of Donetsk).* Outside of the village, the SMM heard one burst of heavy machine gun (HMG) fire at a location 2-3km from its position. The SMM observed that the village has been completely destroyed and abandoned. The Russian Federation Armed Force officer at the JCCC present told the SMM that the village had become uninhabitable after it had been heavily damaged by severe fighting activities in February this year.
In Debaltseve, the SMM met the “mayor” who stated that the city population was approximately 17,000 with a large number of armed “DPR” members stationed. He claimed that the city “administration” had received construction materials for repair of 501 residential and commercial buildings destroyed in the conflict, as humanitarian aid from the Russian Federation.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General, head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, told the SMM that on 13 September a sabotage and reconnaissance group had entered government-controlled areas near Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) on 13 September, resulting in a shoot-out with two Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers subsequently killed, three Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers wounded and one Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier missing.
In government-controlled Kramatorsk ( 83km north of Donetsk), the SMM met the head of the local branch of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, in which 34 journalists from the region are organized. The interlocutor told the SMM that 12 journalist-members of the regional branch had been excluded from the Union for actively supporting “DPR”.
In the Luhansk region, the overall situation observed by the SMM remained calm with one ceasefire violation recorded. In government-controlled Zolote 4 (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard two outgoing single shots of small-arms fire 1km north-east of its position.
At a “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) training area near Krasnyi Luch (55km south-west of Luhansk) which is behind withdrawal lines, the SMM observed 43 multi-launch rocket systems (MLRS) (122mm BM-21 Grad), 16 self-propelled howitzers (122mm 2S1 “Gvozdika”) and ten towed howitzer (152mm 2A65 Msta-B).
In government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53 km north-west of Luhansk), a village near the contact line, an employee of the village administration told the SMM that currently, a new Humanitarian and Logistic Centre in the village was under construction. According to the interlocutor, the centre is anticipated to open around the middle of October, although the agreement on the procedure for crossing the contact line with the “LPR” had yet to be determined.
On 14 September in government-controlled Bilovodsk (74km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM met the head of the district administration who told the SMM that there were 35,000 registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the district which considerably exceeds the number of inhabitants – 24,000. The interlocutors added that due to an increasing number of patients coming from the areas along the contact line including IDPs and Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel, there was a shortage of basic medication and medical equipment for emergency surgeries in hospitals in the district.
The SMM revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area and visited another for the first time, both beyond the respective withdrawal lines. At the first area the SMM observed that four previously recorded self-propelled howitzers (three 122mm 2S3 Akatsya and one 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika) were missing. At the second area the SMM recorded the serial numbers of all weapons present.
The SMM observed the following weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. At western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Styla (35km south of Donetsk, 70km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed one main battle tank (MBT) (T-64) stationary in the yard of a private house. In “DPR”-controlled Serdyte (43km east of Donetsk), the SMM observed five MBTs (T-72) escorted by two military painted passenger vehicles (Lada) heading east.
In Henichesk (178km south-east of Kherson), the adjacent district to the Crimean peninsula, the deputy district prosecutor told the SMM that most of the criminal cases in regard to the administrative boundary line between mainland Ukraine and Crimea concern the counterfeiting of documents for goods transported from Crimea across the line. He added that, currently, 14 criminal proceedings related to cases in Crimea were pending at Henichesk district prosecution office.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Chernivtsi, 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.
- At a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Petrovskyi District (20km south-west of Donetsk), armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM and denied passage, citing security reasons.
-At a checkpoint 1km east of “DPR”- controlled Petrivske (41km south-east of Donetsk), “DPR” members stopped the SMM and said that they had instructions not to allow SMM to pass the checkpoint.
- In “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Luch (55km south-west from Luhansk), “LPR” armed members escorted the SMM by vehicle. The SMM were not allowed to move freely without escort.
- In “DPR”-controlled Lohvynove (56km north-east of Donetsk), an armed “DPR” member escorted the SMM.
- At a checkpoint on highway H15 in “DPR”-controlled Shyrokyi (6.6km south-west of Donetsk city centre), armed “DPR” “police officers” stopped and delayed the SMM for 45 minutes without an explanation.
- At a checkpoint on highway H20 in “DPR”-controlled Shyrokyi (6.6km south-west of Donetsk city centre), an armed “DPR” “police officer” stopped and told the SMM to wait until he got “permission” for the SMM’s passage from his superior. After 25 minutes the SMM was allowed to pass.
- On highway E58, at the northern entrance to Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the road was blocked by obstacles – a long metal pole reinforced with metal staffers and stretched across the road. No one was present at the site and the SMM had to turn around, as it could not bypass the roadblock.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfillment of its mandate”.