Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 29 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 elsewhere in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM chaired the twelfth meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) Working Group on Security Issues in Minsk.
The SMM observed an overall calm situation in 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.
Whilst in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard dozens of outgoing heavy-machine-gun bursts from the direction of Donetsk city.
In government-controlled Mykolaivka (41km south of Donetsk), between 10:10 and 10:55hrs the SMM heard 43 undetermined explosions more than 5km north-east of its position. Subsequently, in government-controlled Bohdanivka (42km south of Donetsk) located 6km south-east of Mykolaivka, a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier attributed the explosions heard by the SMM to the live-fire exercise conducted in “DPR”-controlled area, adding that since the previous week “DPR” had been conducting live-fire exercises with tanks north-east of the village.
In the “DPR”-controlled western outskirts of Donetsk – Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), Trudovskye sub-district of Donetsk city (15km west of Donetsk) and Staromykhailivka (16.5km west of Donetsk), local residents separately told the SMM about mortar shelling and small-arms and light-weapons fire – both outgoing and incoming – in their respective locations during the night on 27 September. In Trudovskye sub-district, the SMM observed a chipped window on the western side of one house. In Staromykhailivka, a staff of the “city council” showed the SMM two houses with minor damages which had allegedly been caused by shooting from the direction of government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk). The SMM assessed that the damages had been caused by weapons with a calibre of less than 100mm and estimated that these had been fired from a westerly direction.
In government-controlled Krasnoarmiisk (50km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a gathering of approximately 250 people (mostly men aged 30-40) in front of the city administration building. Several participants informed the SMM that employees of the “Krasnolimanskaya” coal company had organized a protest against the dismissal of the director and new management policies. Towards the end of the gathering the SMM observed several police officers present.
In government-controlled Velyka Novosilka (74km south-west of Donetsk) the head of district administration told the SMM that the population of the district was approximately 47,000-48,000 including 7,000-8,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the conflict affected areas. The interlocutor added that the number of registered IDPs in the district was 15,000; however half of them had registered only to claim their pensions and had already returned to their original places of residence.
In “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the “deputy head” of the city “administration” and local residents separately told the SMM about the complete lack of access to piped water which previously had been supplied from government-controlled areas through a pipeline crossing the contact line. Local residents added that the water pump had been closed on the government-controlled side during the summer of 2014.
The SMM observed an overall calm situation in Luhansk region with some ceasefire violations. Whilst in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard two explosions at a location 15km west of its position – the direction of a Ukrainian Armed Forces shooting range located in Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) as well as one outgoing explosion 3km south of its position from the direction of government-controlled Staryi Aidar (19km north-west of Luhansk).
Whilst in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 26 explosions and bursts of heavy machine gun from the direction of a training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).
In government-controlled Velyka Chernihivka (44km north of Luhansk), two female interlocutors (aged 50) told the SMM that in the morning they had heard some explosions and shots of small-arms fire from the Ukrainian Armed Forces training range located in government-controlled Chervonyi Zhovten (40km north of Luhansk).
In “LPR-controlled” Alchevsk (40km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM visited an IDP camp where 17 persons from “LPR”-controlled Bakhmutka (50km north-east of Luhansk) – located near the contact line – are living. The head of the IDP camp told the SMM that the IDPs were not able to return to the village as all their houses had been destroyed and that they needed warm clothes for winter.
The SMM re-visited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. At the first holding area the SMM found that one self-propelled artillery system (152mm 2S3 Akatsiya) was missing. The SMM also recorded six weapons in addition to the weapons recorded during previous visits. At the second holding area the SMM observed that all previously recorded weapons were present and registered the serial numbers of an additional six weapons.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted four main battle tanks (MBTs) in the “DPR”-controlled area of Michurine (56km north-east of Mariupol) and twenty MBTs and other military hardware in the area of “DPR”-controlled Sontseve (58km north-east of Mariupol). In the government-controlled area of Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk) two MBTs were noted.
In areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed the presence and movement of a number of weapons and equipment. The SMM observed 16 self-propelled howitzers (122mm 2S1 Gvozdika) and 20 military trucks (Ural) at a training ground in the area of “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM also observed 22 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) (11 BMP-1 and 11 BMP-2) mounted on trucks, eight multipurpose light-armoured towing vehicles (MT-LB), 16 MBTs (14 T-64 and two T-72) and eight anti-aircraft guns (23mm ZU-23-2) mounted on trucks at a training ground in the area of “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM UAVs also observed a concentration of more than 60 MBTs and other military equipment in the “DPR”-controlled area of Torez (57km east of Donetsk).
In the area of government-controlled Vrubivka (71km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a stationary military convoy composed of six military trucks with approximately 100 armed personnel, two trucks towing anti-aircraft guns (23mm ZU-23/2) and one armoured personnel carrier (BTR-4) – the calibre of the observed weapons was under 100mm.
The SMM visited the check-point installed by activists of Crimean Tatars and Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) 2.5km north of the border guard station at Chonhar crossing point (162km south-east of Kherson), where it observed a calm situation. On the side of the road, the SMM saw several tents and some 20-40 persons in camouflage and some 10-15 people in civilian clothes outside the tents. The SMM did not observe any cargo trucks queuing to cross.
In Manevichi district (250km north-east of Lviv) in the Volyn region, the head of district police told the SMM that 3,000 people had been involved in unauthorized digging of amber on 28 September near the village of Lisove (257km north-east of Lviv) and 190 of them had been detained and questioned, after which they had been released. According to the interlocutor, diggers had started coming back to the area after most law enforcement officers that had reinforced local police due to the protest organized on 23 September (see SMM Daily Report 25 September) had left the area. He added that several hundred law enforcement officers from three neighbouring regions were again dispatched to the location to stop unauthorized amber digging. On its way to the digging area, the SMM saw some 160 armed police and National Guard officers.
In Kyiv, the SMM followed up on media reports about an explosion on 29 September allegedly caused by a man throwing an explosive device outside of the south entrance of the main train station, injuring a woman. The SMM explored the location, but could not find any signs of damage to buildings or remnants of an explosive. Subsequently, a police officer informed the SMM that the injured women had suffered a minor injury, but had not been hospitalized.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Chernivtsi, and Ivano-Frankivsk.
*Restrictions on 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 mine threats, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in some areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring in some areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.
- While flying over “DPR”-controlled areas east and north-east of government-controlled Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk) a SMM UAV was jammed.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.