Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 17 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*. In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded significantly fewer explosions than the previous day. In Luhansk a small number of training-related firing incidents was recorded.
The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations than in previous days. While positioned at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk) between 08:35hrs and 14:00hrs, the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 3.5km to the north-west, saw and heard an impact of a 120mm mortar round 2.5km north-west of its position, and heard five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire west-north-west of its position. In government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire to the north-west, which was assessed to be part of live-fire exercises by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
In “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (16km west of Donetsk), the SMM heard outgoing small-arms fire and then observed anti-aircraft fire impact a building 200m from the SMM’s position. At the same time, in nearby government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), the SMM saw two anti-aircraft guns (ZSU 23).
In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), the SMM found remnants of an 82mm mortar round and a fresh crater. Crater analysis carried out by the SMM showed the mortar was fired from the east. At a second location, the SMM was shown remnants of a BM-21 Grad rocket (assessed as unexploded), which the Ukrainian Armed Forces said had been fired the previous night. The SMM observed no evidence of impact or damage caused by the rocket.
Residents in villages near the contact line reported hearing fighting at night. In government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), a group of 15 male residents told the SMM that fighting between the sides had taken place in recent evenings. In “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka, two women in their thirties said that during the evening of 16 November they had heard shelling and shooting (both incoming and outgoing) between 19:00 and 20:00hrs. Security concerns prohibited the SMM from visiting the alleged shelling site. Two elderly residents (a man and a woman) - speaking separately to the SMM - said that in recent days fighting had taken place during the late evening.
Although repair works to power lines between government-controlled Artemove (40km north-east of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) had been postponed due to security concerns, the SMM facilitated and observed demining on the government-controlled and “DPR”-controlled sides that will clear the way for repair teams to start work in the coming days.
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, Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel prevented the SMM from entering.*
Regarding the withdrawal of heavy weapons, neither “DPR” members, nor “LPR” members have yet provided the requested inventory or locations of designated permanent storage sites for these weapons as requested by the SMM on 16 October. The Ukrainian military authorities have also as of yet to provide such information. Nonetheless, the SMM revisited locations that lie beyond the respective withdrawal lines and 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.
In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited four such holding areas and observed a total of 16 howitzers (six 2A36, 152mm, Giatsint-B and ten 2S3, 152mm Akatsiya).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited two holding areas and observed two towed anti-tank guns (MT-12, 100mm, Rapira), and 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S1, 122mm, Gvozdika) in total.
In areas outside the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed: eight howitzers (D-30, 120mm) and eight military-type trucks at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk); seven MBTs with their engines running at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Myrne (42km south of Luhansk); and 20 stationary MBTs at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Khrulyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).
At various locations, the SMM observed weapons and hardware. The SMM observed the following weapons in areas in violation of respective withdrawal lines: 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S3, 152mm) and 18 anti-tank guns (MT-12, 100mm, Rapira) near government-controlled Chervonyi Zhovten (38km north of Luhansk); one main battle tank (MBT, T-64) loaded on a truck near government-controlled Petrivka (27km north-east of Luhansk); one MBT (T-64) being transported on a truck near government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk); three MBTs (T-64) being transported through government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), away from the contact line.
The SMM also observed two infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-2) near “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk); an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a military-type truck in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city; two MBTs (T64) in an area south of government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) heading toward Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk); one BMP-1 and one armoured personnel carrier (APC, BTR-70) near government-controlled Smolianynove (60km north-west of Luhansk); one APC (BTR-70) and a truck with a mounted anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23-2) in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk).
A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer told the SMM that, on 14 November, one soldier was killed and eight were wounded as they laid a defensive minefield near Avdiivka (14km north-east of Donetsk). In Dnepropetrovsk, the SMM spoke with the head of the Armiia Volonterov Dnepr (Dnepr Volunteers Army) organization who said she had been in the area shortly before the incident. She confirmed the numbers killed and injured, adding that the injured had been sent to hospitals in Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Odessa. The deputy director at Mechnikov Hospital in Dnepropetrovsk told the SMM that three injured soldiers were admitted on 15 November after suffering multiple injuries consistent with mine detonation or explosions. According to him, the three soldiers remain in intensive care.
A checkpoint commander in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that a demining team of three Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers had been killed near the contact line on 15 November. A resident also said that an incident had taken place.
At the border crossing point between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in “LPR”-controlled Dolzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed approximately 50 civilian trucks (mostly Ukrainian licence plates), 30 of which carried coal (the remainder were covered) and 30 civilian vehicles (mostly Ukrainian licence plates) queuing to cross to the Russian Federation. Some truck drivers told the SMM they had been waiting for 20 hours to cross; civilians reported a wait of approximately five hours. Others told the SMM that they had to cross to buy fuel as they could not find any in “LPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM observed the scaling back of protests in Kyiv with the removal of tents from the “Tariff Maidan” camp outside the Cabinet of Ministers building. Approximately 30 National Guard and ten police officers (all men) were present while supporters of the Radical Party removed tents with the help of city workers. At another camp outside the Parliament building, the SMM observed two tents being removed voluntarily by Radical Party supporters. Approximately 30 people (mostly men aged 25-40 years old, half of whom wore different camouflage clothing) were present, under the watch of 30 policemen and ten National Guard members. In total, three tents remained, one of which belongs to “Financial Maidan”. A supporter of the “Financial Maidan” said that their tent will remain, despite the suggestions of the police to remove it. The SMM observed approximately 30 people (all men, aged 25-50 years old) at the camp of “The Party of Ordinary People” in Mariinskyi Park.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, and Chernivtsi.
*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 many areas close to the border with the Russian Federation in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access to a permanent weapons storage site. The SMM contacted the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination, but was still denied access. After waiting for 70 minutes, the SMM left.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces stopped the SMM near Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol) and refused to allow the SMM to proceed. They told the SMM that they had orders to open fire on anything that moves and stressed that the SMM would be no exception. The SMM left the area.
- “DPR” members stopped the SMM at a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Nova Mariivka (49km north-east of Mariupol) and refused to allow the SMM to proceed. The SMM left the area but returned a short time later and was again denied access. “DPR” members said they received no orders to let the SMM pass.
- An “LPR” member took a copy of the SMM’s patrol plan before allowing the SMM to proceed at the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Dolzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk).
 All times are in Kyiv time unless otherwise specified
* 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”.