Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 1 October 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 and Luhansk regions remained calm, with few explosions and sporadic small-arms fire heard by the SMM, the majority of which the SMM assessed to be training exercises.
From a location in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard six explosions occurring at a location 5-7km to the east, which the SMM assessed to be live-fire exercises, as training has previously been observed in this area. From the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard several explosions and sporadic small-arms bursts. Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Yunokomunarivsk (48km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard explosions and bursts of small arms occurring 5km south-east of its position. The SMM assessed explosions at both these locations to have been live-fire exercises. Whilst in government-controlled Mykolaivka (63km north of Mariupol) the SMM heard 35 explosions (artillery and/or tank fire) 5-10km to the south-east, in an area where the SMM have observed training exercises. Approximately 10km east of Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard two explosions of unknown origin.
In Kominternove, four male residents told the SMM that they could now pass the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint west of the village, which they had previously been prevented from travelling through by checkpoint personnel (see Daily Report, 31 August 2015). Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM last week that residents were permitted to travel through this checkpoint. The residents said that the restriction on transporting goods over 50kg in weight – outlined in the Temporary Order of the Security Service of Ukraine from June - remained a problem for many, including farmers who want to sell produce in Mariupol.
In an area between the government-controlled towns of Toshkivka and Nyzhnie (60km and 56km respectively north-west of Luhansk) the SMM saw an explosion - possibly controlled - approximately 10-12km to the south. Near “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard four explosions, said by an employee from an electricity company working in the area to have been controlled detonations.
On 30 September and 1 October, the SMM facilitated and monitored a local ceasefire near “LPR”-controlled Obozne (next to the contact line) to enable an electricity company to repair power lines that supply the western and south-western parts of the town. Two residents told the SMM that as a result of repairs they also have water as they can now use electricity-powered water pumps.
Residents in “LPR”-controlled Pryshyb (33km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that about 100 residents had returned voluntarily to the village since the start of September, which now has a population of about 480. According to residents, electricity had been restored recently. The SMM observed some badly damaged houses that residents said had been shelled on 28 August. They complained of shortages of construction material to repair their houses.
The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At two areas, all weapons previously recorded locations were present. At the third area, the SMM observed that three howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm calibre) were missing.
The SMM revisited one Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area, the location of which corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines, and was able to record the serial numbers of weapons for the first time.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed concentrations of heavy weapons in “DPR”-controlled areas. Twenty main battle tanks (MBTs) were spotted in the area of Sontseve (59km north-east of Mariupol); a battery of six self-propelled howitzers in the area of Rozdolne (64km north-east of Mariupol); seven MBTs, at least 14 infantry fighting vehicles (BMPs), and 17 military-type trucks in the area of Komsomolske (73km north-east of Mariupol). In addition, the UAV recorded the presence of more than 64 MBTs at a “DPR” training range in the area of Ternove (56km east of Donetsk).
Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence, on 29 September, of three aircraft (Antonov AN-2 “Colt”) next to a graded earth airstrip in the area of “DPR”-controlled Rozivka (35km north-east of Donetsk). Also on 29 September, aerial surveillance imagery showed 29 MBTs (type unknown), six military-type trucks, and 11 pieces of unidentified equipment in the area of “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (32km south-west of Luhansk), in what was assessed to be a training area.
Near the Kalanchak checkpoint at the Administrative Boundary Line to Crimea (95km south-east of Kherson), the SMM saw five members of the Aidar volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Defence, the Right Sector, and several Crimean Tatars, checking cars going to and from Crimea. In an area 6km north of the Kalanchak checkpoint, the SMM saw two road blocks, each manned by five or six men wearing camouflage fatigues, some wearing the insignia of Right Sector, Odessa Avtomaidan, Self-defence and the Union of Anti-Terrorist Operation Veterans. Approximately 25 activists from the aforementioned groups (mainly men) were in the vicinity. Nearby, the SMM observed the construction of a checkpoint, supervised by armed men who identified themselves as members of the Kherson volunteer battalion under the MIA.
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 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 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.
- Near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel delayed the SMM and an accompanying MH-17 recovery team for 35 minutes while they waited for approval from senior officers to let the SMM through.
- In government-controlled Shchastia (21km north-east of Luhansk), Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint personnel delayed the SMM for 15 minutes, as they awaited approval from senior officers to grant the SMM passage.
- Near “LPR”-controlled Diakove (69km south of Luhansk), “LPR” “border guards” stopped the SMM and asked for written authorization from the “ministry of state security” that permitted the SMM to enter the border area and travel to the international border. The “LPR” “commander” then asked the SMM to leave the area.
- Armed “LPR” members at a checkpoint near Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) stopped the SMM and prevented further travel. After 30 minutes of discussion, “LPR” members said the SMM were allowed to travel onward, but only after waiting for one more hour. The SMM left the area.
- An SMM UAV experienced jamming of its’ global positioning system (GPS) while flying north of government-controlled Avdiivka (14km north of Donetsk).
* 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”.