Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 9 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”, including the Addendum to the Package. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The Ukrainian Armed Forces and “LPR” provided the SMM with information about the withdrawal of artillery of calibre up to 100mm in accordance with the Addendum to the Package of measures. Armed individuals in “LPR”-controlled area prevented the SMM from monitoring the area close to the border with the Russian Federation. The situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions was relatively calm, although the SMM heard several explosions in Donetsk region.
The SMM observed a relatively calm situation in the Donetsk region. 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 one explosion at 8:51hrs. According to a representative of the Russian Federations side at the JCCC and a “DPR” member, the explosion had been caused by a 82mm mortar fired 6km north-north-west of the observation post at a former military base near government-controlled Opytne (12km north-west of Donetsk). The SMM spoke with three groups of Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and one group of civilians in Opytne, who all stated that there had been no incidence of shelling in the village.
Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Komsomolske (42 km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 4-6km south of its position. Residents present told the SMM that the explosions had come from a “DPR” shooting range in the area.
At the border crossing between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in “DPR”-controlled Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 93 civilian vehicles – mostly with Ukrainian licence plates – waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. The SMM spoke with a truck driver (male aged around 60), who said that it took five-six hours on average to pass the border crossing point from Ukraine to the Russian Federation and half an hour to pass through in the opposite direction.
The SMM also observed a queue of 30 civilian vehicles waiting to cross into the Russian Federation at the Novoazovsk (“DPR”-controlled, 53km east of Mariupol) border crossing.
The SMM observed the opening ceremony of a new Government checkpoint and a new Humanitarian and Logistic Centre in the checkpoint in Novotroitske (government-controlled, 36km south-west of Donetsk, 67km north of Mariupol). Approximately 100 participants, from local authorities, media, and shopkeepers were present. The checkpoint, whose staff consist of members of Fiscal Service, Custom Service, Border Guards, Security Service of Ukraine and local police will replace the existing checkpoint in government-controlled Buhas (60km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM also observed that the centre includes a post office, pharmacy, bank, and market.
In Ordzhonikidzevskiy district administration building of government-controlled Mariupol city (102km south of Donetsk), the SMM facilitated dialogue between Volnovakha district administration and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Shyrokyne – temporarily living in Volnovakha. Eight representatives of the Volnovakha administration and ten IDPs attended. The participants discussed issues related to the district administration, including support to IDPs and acceptance of documents from IDPs.
In Luhansk region, the SMM observed an overall calm situation.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces provided the SMM with details of the routes for the withdrawal of artillery pieces of calibre up to 100mm as stipulated in the Addendum. The Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) provided the SMM with details of withdrawal schedule for artillery pieces of calibre up to 100mm as stipulated in the Addendum.
On both government-controlled and “LPR”-controlled sides of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km of Luhansk) the SMM monitored preparations for the reopening of the bridge, the repair work of which it had facilitated. On the government-controlled side, the SMM observed that holes in the road and the bridge had been filled in and most of the unexploded ordnances (UXOs) had been removed. On the other side, the SMM also observed repair and cleaning work (see SMM Daily Report 8 October 2015).
In government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed approximately 30 men wearing green uniforms with several vehicles with licence plates indicating Kyiv 2 volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Internal Affairs visiting houses and interviewing residents to collect information of the number of residents and their identification. A male resident in his sixties told the SMM that a number of inhabitants had left the village due to difficult living conditions. He added that there was no gas in the village since the gas pipeline had been destroyed during the shelling in January and people had not enough financial means to buy heating sources, including coal and firewood.
In government-controlled Troitske (69km east of Luhansk), a group of nine residents (four men and five women) told the SMM that in the last couple of days during night time they had heard occasional small-arms fire. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at a checkpoint told the SMM that small-arms fire had been heard during the night on 8 and 9 October.
The SMM revisited eight Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM found that all weapons previously recorded were present at four of the areas, but the following weapons were absent from the other four areas: two towed howitzers (152mm, 2A65 Msta-B) from the first area – one since 9 July and another since 27 August; one towed howitzer (152mm, 2A65 Msta-B) from the second area since 9 July; six multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs) (122mm, BM-21 Grad) from the third area since 12 July; and five MLRSs (122mm, BM-21 Grad) from the fourth area since 24 September. The SMM’s repeated requests to the JCCC for updated lists of locations of all weapons previously withdrawn remained unanswered (see SMM Daily Report 8 October 2015).
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed in the area of government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) a heavily damaged main battle tank (MBTs) (T-64) being transported on a truck heading north. The SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continued to observe, in violation of respective withdrawal lines, the presence of heavy weapons: in the area of “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (77km north-east of Mariupol) one self-propelled howitzer (122mm 2S1 “Gvozdika), in the area of “DPR”-controlled Komsomolske (74km north-east of Mariupol) seven MBTs and other military equipment, and in the area of “DPR”-controlled Sontseve (60km north-east of Mariupol) twenty three MBTs and other military equipment were observed. In the area of government-controlled Hranitne (48km north-east of Mariupol), the UAV spotted one towed heavy artillery piece.
On 8 October, following up on media reports about an explosion at the cargo railway station in Kupiansk (102 km east of Kharkiv) during the night of 6 October, the SMM visited the site, where it spoke with the chief engineer of the railway station. He told the SMM that the explosion had targeted a railway fuel tank car and no significant material damage had been reported. At the incident site, the SMM observed small spillage of what appeared to be petroleum.
In Kyiv, the SMM followed up on media reports about a shooting incident near Zhytomyrska metro station in Sviatoshynskyi district. At the incident site, the SMM observed six Rapid Reaction Police officers, at least three men arrested by police, and a police vehicle parked nearby. The Kyiv police chief said in a public statement that up to 20 men had been detained on suspicion of extortion and no one had been injured during the shooting.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Lviv.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to 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, damaged infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the situation in Donbas. Armed individuals continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
- Between “LPR”-controlled Velykyi Sukhodil and Sievero-Hundorivskyi (43 and 47km south-east of Luhansk, respectively) – both located near the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, an armed person stopped and demanded the SMM to leave the area, claiming that the SMM was not authorized to be in that area. He said if the SMM would continue to “violate” the “LPR” “border access policy”, the SMM might be detained.
- Between “LPR”-controlled Krasnodon and Izvaryne (43 and 53km south-east of Luhansk, respectively) – the latter located near the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation - an armed person stopped and asked the SMM to turn around, claiming that the SMM had no authorization to be in that area.
- The SMM UAV was exposed to heavy video and data jamming while flying over “DPR”-controlled areas east and north-east of Mariupol