Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 hrs, 18 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 an increase in ceasefire violations at and around Donetsk airport. In the Luhansk region, the SMM observed training activity and an increase in the movement of weapons and military equipment.
The number of ceasefire violations observed at and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) increased in comparison with the previous day. Between 08:30 and 14:15hrs, from its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed a total of 28 explosions – caused mostly by 82mm mortar fire – and heard multiple bursts of small arms and light weapons (SALW) at distances ranging between 2 to 8km to north-north-west, west and south of its position.
In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), between 14:40 and 15:00hrs, the SMM heard 19 undetermined explosions approximately 8-10km north-north-east of its position.
In Donetsk city, the head of the “control centre for the restoration” of “DPR” told the SMM that currently 8,000 persons live in internally displaced persons (IDPs) centres in “DPR”-controlled area and 1,500 more could be accommodated. He added that the centres offer to IDPs free meals and deal with the storage and distribution of the humanitarian aid convoys received from the Russian Federation.
At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed around 85 civilian vehicles waiting to cross into “DPR”-controlled areas, and around 20 were queuing in the opposite direction.
In the Luhansk region, the SMM observed an overall calm situation. In government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard three explosions and several small bursts of small arms 2-3km north of its position and assessed it to coming from a training range located in the outskirts of the village. On 17 September, in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 25 explosions 5-10km south-east of its position. According to the officer of the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC stationed in Stakhanov, the explosions came from an “LPR” training range.
Near “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM facilitated a local ceasefire to enable repairs to the electricity pylons at an “LPR” checkpoint to be carried out by Luhansk Electricity Network. The workers were able to reattach one power cable which was connecting two pylons.
The SMM visited four schools in “LPR”-controlled Krasnodon (34km south-east of Luhansk), Rodakove (21km west of Luhansk) and Zymohiria (28km west of Luhansk). The principals separately told the SMM that their schools were applying the Russian curriculum and the books were provided by the Russian Federation. They said some lessons are also given in the Ukrainian language (3 hours per week).
The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. At both holding areas, the SMM observed that all previously recorded weapons were present.
The SMM observed weapons’ movement in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In the area of government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed one main battle tank (MBT) (T-64), two infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-2) both equipped with an anti-tank guided missile systems (9K111 Fagot or 9M113 Konkurs). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed in the area of Krasnyi Luch (“LPR”-controlled, 56km south-west of Luhansk) five multiple-launch rocket systems.
The SMM observed the presence and movement of weapons and military equipment outside the respective withdrawal lines. In the areas of “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk, Myrne and Uspenka (31km, 28km, and 23km south-west of Luhansk, respectively), the SMM saw a total of 34 MBTs (T-64 and T-72) and nine howitzers. In the area of government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed twelve armoured personnel carriers (BTR-80), all carrying several soldiers, driving in a convoy heading north-west. On 17 September, in the area of government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a convoy consisting of six trucks, towing three howitzers and three armoured vehicles (BRDM) escorted by military police. On 17 September, the SMM observed a convoy consisted of three mortars (82 mm) and several supporting vehicles along the road to government-controlled Smolianynove (60km north-west of Luhansk) heading west. In the area of government-controlled Muratove, the SMM observed several armoured personnel carriers (BTR-80), three Humvees and two MBTs (T-64) carrying armed personnel on top.
On 18 September, at Pecherskyi district court of Kyiv, the SMM monitored the court hearing of the Radical Party Member of Parliament Mosyishchuk arrested on 17 September (see SMM Daily Report 18 September). The judge decided to keep the defendant in pre-trial detention for two months. The SMM observed around 250 supporters of the arrestee (mixed gender and age) waiting outside the court building, which was surrounded by 20 members of National Guard, supported by police officers in five buses parked near the court building of the premises and blocking the road to the court. Supporters present in front of the court building started to disperse peacefully in the late afternoon.
Following up on media reports about an explosion that occurred at night on 17 September at the International Humanitarian University in Odessa city centre, the SMM visited the site and spoke to a security guard who said to have been present at the scene at the time of the explosion. He told the SMM that he immediately had contacted the police, who had arrived at the scene after 20 minutes. The SMM saw a 2-3cm deep and 10cm wide crater and damage to the surrounding walls and to the green tent of a nearby football pitch. Representatives of the regional police later told the SMM that a hand grenade (model RGD-5) had been used and that a pin from the grenade was found near the site of the explosion. They said police have opened an investigation for “hooliganism” (art. 296.4 of the Criminal Code). According to them, no one was injured.
On 17 September, the SMM held separate meetings with the head of the border guard station in Topoli (143km south-east of Kharkiv) and the head of the border crossing point in Pisky (178km east of Kharkiv) at the international border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Both interlocutors said that some 800 persons crossed the border in either direction on a daily basis (approximately 95% are Ukrainian and 5% Russian citizens). At the Pisky border crossing point, the SMM observed ten civilian vehicles and two minivans queuing to cross into the Russian Federation. Nine vehicles had “Donetsk” “registration plates”.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.
*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.
- The SMM was escorted by a car of the “military police” of “LPR” when travelling to and visiting a training facility and firing range in the outskirts of “LPR”-controlled Oleksandrivsk (8km west of Luhansk).
- At the eastern entrance of “DPR”-controlled Novolaspa (47km south of Donetsk), an armed “DPR” member at the checkpoint stopped the SMM claiming that it was only possible for the SMM to pass with the permission of a “DPR” “military commander”, stationed in Komsomolske (“DPR”-controlled, 42km south-east of Donetsk) and with a “DPR” escort.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.