Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 2 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 remained generally calm, but the SMM heard some explosions and small-arms fire. Both Ukrainian Armed Forces and the “LPR” provided the SMM with some baseline information as required under the Addendum to the Package of measures.
In accordance with the provisions of the Addendum to the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”, the SMM received on 1 October from the Ukrainian Armed Forces the co-ordinates of some permanent weapons storage sites. The “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) provided the SMM with a weapons withdrawal schedule, the co-ordinates of some permanent storage sites, and the inventory list indicating the amount of tanks it intends to withdraw, including their types and serial numbers.
At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard at least 20 bursts of light weapons 3.5km north of its position. In government-controlled Starohnativka (51km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard approximately 70 explosions, as well as small-arms fire at an undetermined distance north-west of its position.
The SMM visited a combat training ground near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (32km south-west of Luhansk). During this pre-arranged visit the SMM was escorted by an “LPR” “police” vehicle*, and observed ten (T-72) and 21 (T-64) main battle tanks (MBTs). The SMM also conducted patrols to two Ukrainian Armed Forces military training areas near government-controlled Dmytrivka (41km north-west of Luhansk) and Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk) where they noted no military presence.
The SMM continued to monitor a local ceasefire near “LPR”-controlled Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), where an electricity company is conducting repair works on the power lines that supply the western and south-western parts of the “LPR”-controlled areas (see SMM Daily Report, published on 2 October 2015).
Near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (20km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM facilitated the access of a civil engineer, coming from the government-controlled area, to inspect the bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river. At the “LPR”-controlled side of the bridge, armed individuals checked the visitors’ documents and allowed the inspection after the SMM informed them that the purpose was examining the possibility of restoring pedestrian movement over the bridge.
A group of five residents (two males and three females between 40 and 70) told the SMM in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) that earlier in the day an armed group wearing the Dnipro-1 battalion (under the Ministry of Interior) insignia had conducted house-to-house searches. The residents explained that the group had checked the identity of every local inhabitant, employing force to gain entry into the premises if the door call was not answered, by breaking doors and windows. The residents were visibly scared and revolted by the incident. The SMM also noted an uninhabited house with broken windows and main door.
In the "LPR"-controlled Metalist (6km north of Luhansk) the SMM spoke with a group of people (four females between 45 and 70). They informed the SMM that the situation with gas for heating and electricity was acceptable, although they faced serious issues with the water supply. Once per week Metalist received drinking water from Luhansk city and every second or third day the residents received non-drinkable water for other needs.
The SMM visited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas. At one of these areas, the guards allowed only two* SMM monitors to inspect the weapons. At another, the SMM found one towed anti-tank gun (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) missing, as observed previously (see SMM Daily Report published on 15 September 2015).
The SMM visited five Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas corresponding with the withdrawal lines, and observed that some of the weapons were being relocated to two nearby sites, one of which was in a populated settlement. One of the locations was found empty of weapons where the SMM had recorded 12 towed anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) during its previous visit on 15 August.
The SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted, in violation of the respective withdrawal lines, two MBTs (type unknown) in “DPR”-controlled Michurine (55km north-east of Mariupol), two MBTs in “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (29km east of Mariupol), and 20 MBTs in “DPR”-controlled Sontseve (61m north-east of Mariupol). The UAV also recorded beyond the respective withdrawal lines six MBTs, 26 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), and at least 15 military trucks in the area of “DPR”-controlled Komsomolske (74km north-east of Mariupol). It spotted at least 12 APCs and several military trucks in Bezimenne.
In Novovolynsk (98km north of Lviv, Volyn region), the SMM monitored 100-150 miners protesting peacefully in front of the town council building. The mayor and the representative of the Novovolynsk-1 coal mine trade union told the SMM that miners had begun protesting since they had not received salaries since June 2015.
The SMM met in Uzhhorod (181km west of Ivano-Frankivsk) with the chief prosecutor of the Zakarpattia region. The interlocutor said that since January 2015 his office had registered 112 criminal proceedings under the “evasion from mobilisation” article of the Criminal Code. He told the SMM these cases only included instances where the defendants had received and signed the draft notice, but consequently evaded mobilisation, and not the instances when draft notices were being evaded.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, and Kyiv.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions due to restrictions imposed by the parties, as well as security considerations, including mine threats, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.
- Individuals who introduced themselves as “customs officials” refused access to the SMM into “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (54km south-east of Luhansk), a town which has an international border crossing point.
- Guards at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area prevented the SMM access to the stored weapons for ten minutes, before allowing them to enter the site.
- The SMM UAV faced video signal jamming while flying over “DPR”-controlled Kachkarske (35km north-east of Mariupol). It experienced on two instances jamming of its geographic positioning system (GPS) over the government-controlled area south of Hranitne (46km north-east of Mariupol). The UAV GPS signal was also jammed over the “DPR”-controlled Michurine, and Pervomaiske (56km north-east of Mariupol);
- The SMM was escorted by an “LPR” “police” vehicle when visiting an “LPR” combat training ground;
Guards at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area allowed only two SMM monitoring officers to enter the site for weapons inspection.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate”.