Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 hrs, 20 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 situation in Donetsk region and in Luhansk region remained relatively calm and the SMM did not record ceasefire violations on 19 September, but observed six explosions and some small-arms fire on 20 September. The SMM observed tensions but no incidents during the blockade of cargo trucks at three crossing points to Crimea.
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), on 19 September, the SMM did not record any ceasefire violations. On 20 September, at the same observation point, the SMM heard a total of three undetermined explosions north-west and multiple bursts of small-arms fire north-north-east of its position.
Also on 20 September, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions and multiple bursts of small arms in government-controlled, Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) and approximately ten bursts of heavy machine-gun fire north of its position in government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol). The SMM assessed that is was shooting training from a firing range.
On 19 September, the SMM visited Hospital 14 in the Petrovskyi district of Donetsk city to follow up on media reports and information received from Volnovakha hospital of people injured in an explosion on 17 September in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). According to the duty doctor, three members of one family (a man and a woman in their mid-forties and their teenage son) were admitted to the hospital on 18 September with minor wounds caused by shrapnel. A police officer at the local police station said police had received the information but had not yet been able to follow up. On 20 September, the wounded woman told the SMM in a phone conversation that the gate to their property had been booby-trapped with a defensive hand grenade which exploded and lightly wounded her husband and son.
On 19 September, the SMM visited the Humanitarian Logistic Centre located 5km south of the checkpoint in government-controlled Zaitseve (50km north of Donetsk) and noted that a mobile medical unit had been established. The medical unit is staffed by and provides medical assistance primarily to Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel but it also provides medical assistance to civilians visiting the Centre, according to its personnel.
On 20 September, the SMM visited the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (11km north-east of Donetsk) and saw the arrival and departure board indicating that there were approximately ten arrivals and ten departures of trains daily to and from Makiivka.
In the Luhansk region, the overall situation remained calm. On 20 September at 10:10hrs the SMM heard one blast while in government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk), in the direction of a checkpoint near the government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west from Luhansk). The Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at that checkpoint later told the SMM that they also heard a blast, possible the same one, somewhere near "Lugansk People’s Republic” (LPR")-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk).
On 20 September, at 10:35hrs in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed two jet-propelled airplanes flying 10-15km south of its position. One plane was moving east to west and one plane from west to east. Due to the distance, the SMM could not determine the exact type of the airplanes.
On 19 September, in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) Ukrainian Armed Forces at the checkpoint close to the bridge told the SMM that situation was calm and the bridge remained closed. The SMM saw some 50 people (men and women of various ages), many of whom were carrying large pieces luggage, waiting to cross from Stanytsia Luhanska to the “LPR”-controlled area. A group of some 30 individuals (men and women of various ages) who were waiting to go from the “LPR”-controlled area to Stanytsia Luhanska complained about the closed bridge.
On 20 September, the SMM visited a soup kitchen in “LPR”-controlled Suchodilsk (38km south-east of Luhansk). There, the manager stated that the local “administration” of the Krasnodon (“LPR”-controlled, 43km south-east of Luhansk) district has decided to close the soup kitchen as humanitarian situation in general is improving with pensions being paid by local “administration” in Russian Roubles.
On 20 September, the SMM visited the site where a humanitarian logistic centre is expected to open in Novotoshkivske. The head of the civil-military administration said that they were aiming to open the centre before the winter.
The SMM observed weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. On 19 September, the SMM saw an Ural truck towing a flat-bed with the mortar (120mm, 2S9 NONA) and a Kamaz truck towing a howitzer (122mm, 2A18 D-30) on Artemivska Street in Donetsk city, moving south-west. On 19 September in Luhansk city, the SMM saw a military-type truck transporting one main battle tank (MBT) (T-72 tank) west and between government-controlled Popasna (59km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw two MBTs (T-64) moving north. On 20 September, in the area of Novotoshkivske, the SMM saw a stationary MBT (T-64).
The SMM also observed the presence and movement of weapons and military equipment outside the respective withdrawal lines. On 19 September, in the area of "LPR"-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed 28 tanks (T64 and T72). On 19 September, in the area of government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw one truck towing a heavy machine-gun and a second truck towing an anti-aircraft twin auto cannon (ZU-23-2) moving west.
On 20 September, in the area of between government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw an armored personnel carrier (BTR-60) with a mounted 30mm anti-aircraft machine gun stationary at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint. At a training ground in the area of “LPR”-controlled Chornukhine (65km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw 12 MBTs (T-64) stationary in the field.
On 20 September, in Kherson region the SMM monitored blocking of three crossing points to Crimea, namely Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chonhar organized by the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis. While no trucks were allowed to pass, passenger vehicles and pedestrian traffic were allowed through in both directions at all three crossing points. The situation was occasionally tense but there were no incidents. In Kalanchak (95km south-east of Kherson) the SMM observed uniformed members of the Right Sector and members of the Sich non-governmental organisation along with Crimean Tatars. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), regular police, Kherson volunteer police battalion and special police forces were also present. In Kalanchak, there were tensions between protesters and truck drivers after the protesters accused drivers of supporting the Russian army. Truck drivers claimed that the protesters threatened to set their trucks on fire if they did not turn back. The head of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, Mr. Chubarov visited the gathering and told the SMM that the blockade would continue indefinitely.
Ten kilometres north of Chaplynka crossing point (90km south-east of Kherson), the SMM observed Crimean Tatars and approximately 25 members of the Right Sector and 50 members of the Sich non-governmental organisation in camouflage clothes. Six regular police officers and 20-25 Kherson police battalion volunteers were present. A group of 20 civilians demonstrated peacefully. In Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson) the roadblock was manned by approximately 50 members of the Right Sector, Maidan Self-Defence and Aidar volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Defence and Donbas volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Twenty members of Kherson volunteer police battalion were present. Crimean Tatar representatives blocked the road by walking in circles over the pedestrian road crossing. The SMM observed two empty trucks (with Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia license plates) being stopped by the protesters and prevented from proceeding towards the mainland. The protesters threatened to slash the trucks’ tyres if trucks do not turn back. At the end of its observation, the SMM observed several empty trucks pass the blockade towards Ukraine mainland.
On 20 September, in Chernivtsi, the SMM observed a public gathering of around 60 people (men and women, different age groups) organized by Svoboda party. They expressed dissatisfaction with rising heating costs and the political leadership. The demonstration, watched by four police officers on foot and a police patrol in a car, ended peacefully.
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.
- On 18 September, the SMM was denied access to an abandoned railway facility in government-controlled Nova Kondrashivka (14km north-east of Luhansk) by an officer who identified himself as the facility commander. He said that the SMM needed authorization from his supervisor.
- On 19 September, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Troitske, the SMM was denied access to the town. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that in accordance with instructions they received, the SMM could not continue. He did not give the source of the instructions.
- On 19 September, in “LPR”-controlled Darino-Yermakivka (77km south of Luhansk), an armed woman introduced herself as the deputy commander of the Darino-Yermakivka “border detachment” and demanded that the SMM immediately leave the area. She warned that if the SMM attempted “unauthorized entry of the border zone” without “special access permission papers” from the "LPR” “ministry of national security” it would be “administratively detained.”
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.