Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 18 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. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions was relatively calm, although the SMM registered non-training related explosions in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Armed individuals prevented the SMM from monitoring in Luhansk region an area near the border with the Russian Federation.
The SMM observed a generally calm situation in most areas in Donetsk region. At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at Donetsk railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 6km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard on 17 October 15 explosions approximately 3-5km north-west of its position, which, according to the JCCC officers, were controlled detonations. On 18 October the SMM heard and saw 31 undetermined explosions at 5-6km distance south of its position, which was qualified by the JCCC as “DPR” training activities. Later, the SMM saw four and heard eight explosions 3-6km north-west of its position; according to the duty officer at the JCCC in Soledar, this had been incoming mortar fire.
In government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), inhabitants expressed concern about what they said was insufficient gas for heating, high coal and electricity prices and the non-availability of supplies to fix conflict‑damaged houses. Residents of Marinka also spoke of the importance of opening the H15 road.
The SMM continued to observe a relatively calm situation in most areas in Luhansk region. While at the outskirts of government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 10-15km to the south-east. Individual explosions were heard in the vicinity of government-controlled Mykolaivka (76km north-west of Luhansk) and Bobrove (56km north-west of Luhansk).
In “LPR”-controlled Komisarivka (61km south-west of Luhansk and 11km north-east of Debaltseve), the SMM spoke with some uniformed individuals who claimed that they were from the “DPR” armed groups and were assigned to reinforce “LPR” armed groups in the area. The interlocutors also stated that their direct command was based in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (56km north-east of Donetsk).
The SMM inspected one Ukrainian Armed Forces and one “LPR” permanent weapons storage site. It confirmed the presence of the declared weapons at these sites, as stipulated in the Addendum to the Package of measures.
The SMM revisited seven Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. The SMM observed weapons to be missing at four of the visited locations. Two towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) were missing from one location – one since 27 August and another since 9 July 2015. Another howitzer (Msta-B) was missing from the second location, as it has been since 9 July. Six multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS, BM-21 Grad, 122mm) were missing from a third location, which was first reported as abandoned on 12 July, and another five BM-21 MLRS were missing from the fourth area – two since 12 July and three since 24 September (see SMM Daily Report, 25 September 2015), when the area was abandoned.
The SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continued to spot concentrations of military equipment in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled locations the UAVs observed the following hardware: two main battle tanks (MBT) in the area of Bezimenne (29km east of Mariupol), 26 MBTs and one mobile air defence missile system (9K35 Strela-10M, 120mm) in the area of Sontseve (57km south-east of Donetsk), three MBTs in the area of Michurine (55km north-east of Mariupol), two self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in the area of Petrivske (42km south-east of Donetsk), and two self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in the area of Oktiabr (28km north-east of Mariupol). An SMM UAV experienced jamming over “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (25km north-east of Mariupol).
The SMM UAVs also spotted beyond the respective withdrawal lines six MBTs in the area of “DPR”-controlled Komsomolske (43km south-east of Donetsk).
On 18 October the SMM observed in the area of “LPR”-controlled Novosvitlivka (16km south-east of Luhansk) a convoy of 21 military-type trucks heading in the direction of Luhansk. It also spotted nine general purpose Kamaz trucks moving towards “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk), and another 22 military-type trucks in the area of “LPR”-controlled Lutuhyne (21km south-west of Luhansk).
In “DPR”-controlled Panteleimonivka (24km north-east of Donetsk), one resident told the SMM that there was some movement of armoured vehicles near the village. South-east of the settlement the SMM observed signs of recent tracked-vehicle movement. Several kilometres south-east of the village, the SMM found a “DPR” firing range, that was used to train new “DPR” recruits, according to a “DPR” member on the site. He told the SMM that three armoured infantry vehicles (BMP) were used for training at that facility.
In Dnepropetrovsk region the SMM heard about three incidents involving the use of weapons or explosive devices. In relation to the first incident, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed in a phone conversation with the SMM the detention of a Dnepropetrovsk resident on the suspicion of planning to plant an explosive device in a public space. His residence was searched by law enforcement personnel and he was found to be in possession of 11 kilograms of plastic explosives, electric detonators, and two grenades (F-1 and RGD-5), according to the SBU.
In the second case, according to the district police station, a man had been killed in Kryvyi Rih (137km south-west of Dnepropetrovsk) while handling an improvised explosive device. The police found at the deceased’s residence a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, two Makarov pistols, an anti-personnel defensive grenade, three stun grenades, and 241 cartridges of different calibre, police said.
The third incident involved, according to local police, an explosive device being detonated at the residence door of a local newspaper’s editor in Oleksandriia (144km west of Dnepropetrovsk). The SMM visited the place and observed the damage. Police said they are investigating the case.
In Kherson the SMM followed up on an incident, which according to Kherson deputy police chief had involved the use of an explosive device in an apparent attempt on 7 October to destroy an electricity supply pylon in the vicinity of Chonhar (160km south-east of Kherson). Next to the remnants of an old pylon the SMM observed a new pylon had been erected, which is a part of the power grid supplying Crimea with electricity. A resident from a neighbouring settlement told the SMM that the explosion had occurred some 2km away and its power had caused the glass windows to shake. The interlocutor said that local residents believed the incident was linked to the Crimea “blockade”, since before it began the area was quiet. In a conversation with the SMM, a Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) member participating in the “blockade” stated his group had not been involved.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv 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 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 international border with the Russian Federation in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
- Individuals who introduced themselves as “customs officials” refused access to the SMM into “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (54km south-east of Luhansk), a town with an international border crossing point. One of them told the SMM that only the permission from the “LPR” “ministry of state security” was applicable for gaining access;
- Armed “LPR” members denied the SMM access to a military compound in Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk). When visiting the second day, the SMM was granted access to most of the compound facilities except one building, which the interlocutor said was sealed by the “mayor’s” office;
- Armed individuals denied the SMM access into “DPR”-controlled Lukove (41km north-east of Mariupol), claiming the SMM should have announced its visit in advance. While leaving the village, the SMM overheard threats to be shot if returning to the location.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers stopped the SMM for over ten minutes at a checkpoint near government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk), and demanded to inspect the rear seats of the SMM vehicles. During this inspection, a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier stood some four meters in front of the SMM front vehicle pointing a machine gun (PKM type) towards the SMM with his finger on the trigger.
* 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”