Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 15 November 2015
This report is for 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*. On 15 November, the SMM observed a significant increase in the number of explosions and gunfire from its position at Donetsk railway station. The SMM received a number of reports about fatalities in shelling and mine incidents elsewhere in Donetsk region. It followed up on reports about three incidents involving explosives in Uzhhorod. The SMM observed no security incidents in relation to the second round of local elections which took place on 15 November.
The SMM recorded ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. On 14 November, from its position at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard a total of 14 bursts of light machine-gun at locations 3km north-north-west and 4km west-north-west. In three separate locations in the southern part of Donetsk region, “DPR”-controlled Telmanove (50km north-east of Mariupol), government-controlled Volnovakha (55km north of Mariupol) and “DPR”-controlled Novooleksandrivka (63km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard several undetermined explosions.
On the same day, while at a checkpoint near “Lugansk People’s Republic”(“LPR”)-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions (possibly artillery fire) and one burst of heavy machine gun fire 2km north of its position. At a checkpoint on the “LPR”-controlled side of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed an unidentified unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (brown-coloured, 50cm size) flying over the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at an altitude of 200m. The “LPR” checkpoint commander fired approximately 30 shots from an AK-47 in the direction of the UAV.
On 15 November, positioned at Donetsk railway station, the SMM heard a total of 229 explosions (anti-aircraft gun, one impacting 120mm mortar round, and undetermined weapons) mainly at locations 3-5km north, north-north-west, north-west and west of its position, as well as at least 250 bursts of small arms and heavy machine-gun mainly at locations west, west-south-west of its position.
The SMM observed damaged houses and heard about casualties as result of shelling. On 14 November, in “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (16 km west of Donetsk), 35 residents (the majority of them middle-aged and elderly women) told the SMM that shooting and shelling had intensified in the past weeks and had been constant over the previous three nights. The SMM observed that almost all the houses in the area close to the contact line had suffered some damages – walls and windows were partially broken and some of them were fresh. On 14 November, Ukrainian Armed Forces military doctors in Kostiantynivka (government-controlled, 60km north of Donetsk) hospital No.5 and a military co-ordinator in the regional hospital in government-controlled Artemivsk (67km north of Donetsk), independently, told the SMM that one Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier had been killed and two others had been injured during shelling in Zaitseve (48km north-west of Donetsk) on 13 November.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited four Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. At three sites, all previously recorded weapons (which matched the quantity and serial numbers of the inventory) were present. At the fourth site, it observed that all previously recorded weapons were present and, for the first time, recorded the serial numbers of four additional weapons, which were not part of the inventory.
Neither “DPR” nor “LPR” had yet provided the requested inventory of heavy weapons, or locations of designated permanent storage sites for these weapons as requested by the SMM on 16 October. The Ukrainian military authorities are yet to provide such information. Nonetheless, the SMM revisited the locations beyond the respective withdrawal lines and which are known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they did not comply with the specific criteria set out in the 16 October notification.
On 15 November, in government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited one holding area and observed six towed howitzers (152mm 2A36 Giatsint-B).
On 14 November, in “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited five holding areas and observed at the first area two towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) and at the second area six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). The SMM could not access the third area as the entrance was locked and no guards were present*. From a distance, it observed six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and what it assessed as two anti-tank guns (M-12 Rapira, 100mm). At the fourth area, the SMM observed nine mortars (PM-38, 120mm) and at the fifth 13 towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm).
The SMM continued to observe weapons in violation of respective withdrawal lines. On 15 November, the SMM observed: in the area of government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), one main battle tank (T-64) being transported on a heavy equipment carrier; in the area of government-controlled Petrivka (27km north-east of Luhansk), one main battle tank (T-64) loaded on a heavy equipment carrier; and in the area of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk), two self-propelled howitzers (2S1, Gvozdika, 122mm) hidden in bushes.
On 14 November, beyond the respective withdrawal lines the SMM observed: in the area of government-controlled Shchastia (20km north-west of Luhansk), a convoy consisting of nine military trucks, two armoured personnel carriers (APCs)(MTLB); in the area of Novoaidar (46km north-west of Luhansk, government controlled), a convoy of ten military vehicles including four APCs (MTLB); and in the area of government-controlled Bakhmutivka (35km north-west of Luhansk), a convoy of 25 military trucks.
On 14 November, the SMM spotted: at a training ground near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk), 18 main battle tanks (MBT); at a training ground near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), five towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm); and at a training ground near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk), ten MBTs.
The SMM followed up on a number of mine-related incidents. On 14 November, military doctors in Kostiantynivka hospital No.5 informed the SMM that three Ukrainian Armed soldiers who had been seriously injured in a landmine detonation incident in government-controlled Oleksiivo-Druzhkivka (64km north-west of Donetsk) had been transported to the hospital on 13 November. On the same day, the SMM visited a morgue in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (22km west of Donetsk), where a coroner confirmed the death of two civilian men (aged in 30 and 60) who had driven over an anti-tank mine in the northern suburb of government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) on the previous day.
On 15 November, the SMM monitored an exchange of detainees. On the H15 highway between a “DPR” checkpoint near Oleksandrivka (19km south-west of Donetsk) and the government checkpoint near Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), it observed the exchange of two detainees from the “DPR” side and two prisoners from the Government side.
The SMM visited a number of crossing points along the Ukraine-Russian Federation border. On 14 November, in “DPR”-controlled Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed that 20 civilian trucks and 60 cars, the majority of which had Ukrainian licence plates, were waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. On 15 November, in “LPR”-controlled Dolzhansky (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed four cars and two trucks queuing on the Ukrainian side. On the same day, in “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartyzansk (68km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw three cars and two trucks queuing on the Ukrainian side of the crossing point.
On 14 November, the SMM facilitated access of civilians to their houses in the “LPR”-controlled area between the Prince Igor monument and the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk). The SMM observed that 20 civilians (most of them were pensioners residing in and around “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city) conducted a temporary visit to their dachas for the first time in over a year escorted by armed “LPR” members.
On 15 November, following up on media reports about diesel shortages in “LPR”-controlled areas, the SMM visited a total of nine fuelling stations in three areas; Krasnodon (43km south-east of Luhansk), Rovenky (55km south of Luhansk) and Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk). The SMM observed that none were selling diesel fuel, save one fuelling station in Rovenky.
The SMM followed up on media reports about three incidents involving explosives in residential areas in Uzhhorod (181km west of Ivano-Frankivsk) during the early morning of 13 November. On 15 November, the head of Zakarpattia regional police confirmed to the SMM that three explosions had been caused by grenades (RGD-5 and F-1) and that four cars had been damaged (no casualties reported). According to him, the Zakarpattia regional Prosecutor’s Office had classified the incidents as acts of terrorism under the Criminal Code and the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) had taken over the cases for further investigation. In relation to Patrioty Zakarpattia, which reportedly claimed responsibility for the explosions on its webpage, the interlocutor added that the webpage (social network Vkontakte) had been created several hours before the explosions and deleted shortly after the explosions.
In Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv the SMM observed no security incidents in relation to the second round of local elections which took place on 15 November.
*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, damaged infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the situation in Donbas. “LPR” members 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.
Denial of access:
- On 14 November, the SMM could see weapons only from a distance at a “DPR” holding area, as the entrance was locked and no guards were present.
- On 14 November, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier delayed the SMM for 15 minutes. After he received command from his superior, the SMM was allowed to proceed further.
- On 15 November, an SMM UAV was jammed while flying over government-controlled area. The jamming started 33km south-west of Donetsk airport, affected both global positioning systems, and lasted almost an hour. The aircraft landed safely.
* 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”.