Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 19 October 2015
This report is for the media and the 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 heard several explosions. Verification of withdrawal stipulated in the Addendum to the Package of measures was not scheduled for the reporting period. The SMM observed a gathering of some 300 people in front of the residence of SMM monitors in Donetsk city.
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), between 9:40 and 14:14hrs, the SMM heard a total of six explosions 3-4km north-north-west of its position as well as multiple bursts of small-arms fire 3-5km west, north-north-east and north-north-west of its position. At 15:40hrs the SMM heard multiple bursts of small-arms and light-weapons fire 3-4km north-north-west of its position. Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the JCCC told the SMM that this had been a heavy-machine-gun fire exchange between a military base in government-controlled Opytne (12km north-west of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Donetsk airport (8km north-west of Donetsk).
Outside the residence of the SMM in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre at 8:15hrs, the SMM observed approximately 300 people (the majority of them men aged 20 to 60) getting off four large buses and three minibuses. Several participants were holding up signs that said “OSCE your presence is our protection” and “Donbas wants peace”. The SMM monitored that the demonstration passed off peacefully, while some participants (one man and five-six women) shouted and expressed their dissatisfaction with SMM activities. The SMM also observed several “DPR” duty “police officers” present. Most of the participants started leaving in the vehicles at approximately 8:49hrs after the SMM invited five of them into the hotel for discussion, where they expressed their concern about what they referred to as corruption at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints.
In government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk), an officer of the military and civil administration from the Ukrainian Armed Forces told the SMM that there was currently a procedure in place according to which, internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Pisky may request permission to temporarily visit their property in the village. Residents confirmed this information and added that such a visit was conducted on Tuesdays and Fridays.
In “DPR”-controlled Voznesenska and Starobesheve (33km and 32km south-east of Donetsk, respectively), several residents separately informed the SMM that there were two shooting ranges in the area and expressed their concerns about training activities which aroused fear particularly among children who have suffered trauma during the conflict.
Following up on media reports about an explosion that occurred in a high-rise residential apartment in the early morning in Mariupol, the SMM spoke to the deputy head of the Mariupol city police department who informed that the incident had occurred at 04:45hrs at Nakhimova avenue 136 (2km south-west of Mariupol city centre). At the location of the alleged incident, the SMM observed no significant damage to the main walls of the building and the balcony windows, which reportedly had been hit and had already been replaced. According to the announcement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ regional department, the police had found a used anti-tank grenade launcher at the scene, and no one had been injured.
At the Uspenka international border crossing point (“DPR”-controlled, 73km south-east of Donetsk) between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, the SMM observed 64 civilian vehicles including two buses and two trucks queuing to cross into the Russian Federation. Passengers at the front of the queue told the SMM that they had been waiting for three hours.
The SMM continued to observe a relatively calm situation in most areas in Luhansk region. In government-controlled Kriakivka (37km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard five explosions, originating from 15-20km south-west of its position. When stationary 5km north-east of “Lugansk People’s Republic”(“LPR”)-controlled Perevalsk (40km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 5km south-east of its position assessed to have occurred at an “LPR” training area in the vicinity of “LPR”-controlled Stepanovka (32km south-west of Luhansk) known to the SMM.
In positions of armed personnel in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed ten fresh craters assessed to have been caused by a grenade launcher fired from a westerly direction. An armed “LPR” member present told the SMM that the craters had been caused by an exchange of fire during the night of 15 October.
In a residential area in government-controlled Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed three unexploded ordnances (UXOs) – rockets of a BM-27 Uragan multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) (220mm) stuck in the ground and assessed them to have been fired from an easterly direction. The SMM noted that some UXOs were located in gardens and near houses in densely populated area. Three residents (one aged 40 and two aged 60) told the SMM that the rockets had hit the area at the end of August. According to the interlocutors, the Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel had come to the village in September to record information but hitherto nobody had come to clear the UXO.
On the government-controlled side of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed that four UXOs (82mm mortars) were stuck in the road, which have not yet been removed, in the area around the checkpoint (see SMM Daily report 17 October).
In “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (18km north of Luhansk), two female residents in their sixties told the SMM that the village had periodically suffered blackouts due to the on-going repair works on power lines. According to the interlocutor, there had been no running water since June or July because a pumping station had been destroyed by an explosion.
The SMM revisited four “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations corresponded with respective withdrawal lines. The SMM observed weapons to be missing at two of the visited locations. Two self-propelled howitzers (122mm 2S1 Gvozdika) were missing from one location since 13 October. A total of six mortars (120mm, PM-38) were missing from the second area – two since 4 October and another four since 12 October. At one location, armed “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to enter the area*.
In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) spotted the following military hardware in “DPR”-controlled areas: in the area of Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) two main battle tanks (MBTs) and in the area of Sontseve (60km north-east of Mariupol) 25 MBTs and other military equipment.
On 18 October in Ivano-Frankivsk city centre, the SMM monitored a gathering of 200 people (mostly men) organized by Svoboda party who were protesting against the police investigations of some members of the party. The SMM observed the protest pass off peacefully with 15 police officers present.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kharkiv, Kherson, Chernivtsi, 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.
- An armed guard denied the SMM access to the “customs” area of the Uspenka crossing point (“DPR” controlled, 73km south-east of Donetsk) at the Ukraine-Russian Federation border.
- At a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access, citing they had an order from a “higher commander” not to let anyone into the area.
- An SMM UAV was heavily jammed over both “DPR”-controlled and government- controlled areas. The dual GPS jamming started while flying over the “DPR”-controlled area of Yasynuvata (16km north- east of Donetsk) and the UAV was almost out of control for a while. After full control of the UAV was regained, it continued to experience the dual GPS jamming over government-controlled areas of Polkove (38km north of Mariupol), Pryvilne (31km north of Mariupol) and Shevchenko (19km north-west of Mariupol). The SMM UAV then had to stand down for a while.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table
* 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”