Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 25 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*. The SMM recorded over 70 explosions in Donetsk region, as well other ceasefire violations elsewhere in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM continued to follow the situation near and at the administrative boundary line between Kherson region and Crimea.
From its position at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed ceasefire violations. The SMM heard a total of 13 explosions. It assessed eight of them as incoming (five 3km north-east of its position and three 2-3km north, in the area of the airport) and five undetermined (three 2-3km north and two 4-6km west-north-west, in the area of the “DPR”-controlled Volvo Centre). The SMM also heard multiple bursts and single shots of small arms in the area of “DPR”-controlled Spartak, some 3km north-east of its position.
Outside government-controlled Pervomaiske (17km north-west of Donetsk), for 20 minutes the SMM heard from the direction of government-controlled Pisky, Opytne, and Vodiane (11, 12, and 15km north-west of Donetsk, respectively) explosions caused by outgoing and incoming mortar (82 or 120mm), artillery (122mm), and tank fire, as well as rifle, heavy-machine-gun and automatic grenade launcher fire. In Pisky, 1-2km east of its position, the SMM heard 13 explosions caused by incoming mortar and artillery rounds, as well as rifle, heavy-machine-gun and automatic grenade launcher fire.
In Yasynuvata (“DPR”-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions at locations 5-10km from its position. While approaching an observation post in Novhorodske (government-controlled, 34km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard rifle and heavy-machine-gun fire occurring at “DPR” positions located 800m north-east of the observation post near a Ukrainian Armed Forces position. The SMM also heard three undetermined explosions in government-controlled Vesele (20km north of Donetsk) and several explosions in government-controlled Ivanivka (56km north-west of Donetsk). The Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination office in Mariupol independently told the SMM that the firing had occurred at a shooting range in Ivanivka.
Representatives of the energy company DTEK in both “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Artemove (40km north of Donetsk) told the SMM that planned demining and repair works on power lines were still pending, citing lack of security guarantees and on-going fighting in the area on 24 November.
Whilst in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard small-arms, heavy-machine-gun and artillery (152mm) fire outgoing 10km north-north-west of its position. At a shooting range in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (31km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed live-fire exercises conducted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces; they fired small arms, machine-guns, recoilless guns, and armoured personnel carrier (BMP-1, BTR-80 and BRDM-2) guns.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. All previously recorded weapons were present.
In other areas beyond the withdrawal lines outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-proscribed weapons: 20 main battle tanks (MBT; T64) in a training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal and movement of heavy weapons. Neither “DPR” nor “LPR” members have yet provided inventories 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 beyond the respective withdrawal lines known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though these did not comply with the specific criteria set out in the 16 October notification.
The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces holding areas and observed in total 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 18 towed howitzers (2A36 Giantsint-B, 152mm), 23 self-propelled howitzers (six 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm; six 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm; and 11 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm), and 12 multiple launch rockets systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm).
The SMM revisited a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area and observed six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and two anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
The SMM also revisited a “DPR” permanent heavy weapons storage site that complied with the criteria outlined in the 16 October notification, and verified weapons stored there.
The SMM monitored the presence and movement of heavy weapons. In violation of the withdrawal lines, in a field near “LPR”-controlled Yurivka (26km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw 12 howitzers (D30, 122 mm) pointed south-east. Near the howitzers, the SMM saw a large pile of ammunition and two armed men. Near government-controlled Smolianynove (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw one self-propelled howitzer (2S3, Akatsiya 152mm) being transported on a heavy-vehicle carrier moving east.
The SMM visited* a crossing point on the Ukraine-Russian Federation border in Chervonopartyzansk (“LPR”-controlled, 69km south-east of Luhansk). The SMM observed some 50 civilian vehicles – the majority with Ukrainian registration plates – queuing to cross into the Russian Federation. Some of the people (mixed gender and age) waiting there told the SMM that they intended to cross into government-controlled areas of Ukraine via the Russian Federation. They said they were travelling to government-controlled areas in order to visit relatives, and refuel vehicles and do shopping, as prices were lower than in “LPR”-controlled areas.
The SMM facilitated adherence to the ceasefire and monitored the delivery of water pipes in a convoy of vehicles to the Karbonit water supply station in government-controlled Hirske (62km north-west of Luhansk). The International Committee of the Red Cross was accompanying the convoy. The pipes are intended to replace damaged sectors of water supply lines.
The SMM observed impediments to the movement of civilians across the contact line. At a government checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw 531 civilian vehicles in a 400m-long queue waiting to enter government-controlled areas. There were anti-tank mines on the road east of the checkpoint. Later, the SMM saw 315 cars on one occasion and 270 civilian cars and three civilian buses on another occasion waiting to enter government-controlled areas through the same checkpoint. At a government checkpoint in government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw some 700 cars waiting to enter government-controlled areas. At different hours, at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in government-controlled Buhas (46km south-west of Donetsk), 200-300 cars were waiting to enter government-controlled areas and some 250 cars were waiting to enter “DPR”-controlled areas. The commander of a government checkpoint in government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol) said people were not allowed to carry coal or firewood through the checkpoint but could carry up to 50kg of food and unlimited amounts of water.
The SMM continued to follow the situation related to the explosions damaging power supply pylons and disrupting the power supply across the administrative boundary line between Kherson and Crimea (see SMM Daily Report 21 November). At the site near Chaplynka (77km south-east of Kherson), the SMM saw a crew of 15 workers from UkrEnergo/Kherson Long-Distance Electric Network repairing the cables of the easternmost line. A new pylon had been erected to replace the damaged one and workers were mending damaged sections of the power cables. One of the activists – who were staying in a tent nearby – told the SMM that an agreement had been reached between UkrEnergo, the Ministry of Energy and the activists on repairing that one line, which he said after reaching Crimea it returns to mainland Ukraine and reduces the load on Kherson’s other lines. An UkrEnergo employee confirmed that the company was repairing just the one electric line, as had been agreed with activists.
At a checkpoint south of Chaplynka, ten activists were stopping vehicles and checking their contents and drivers’ identification. A middle-aged lady standing near her car told the SMM she was not being let through because of a diesel generator she wanted to take to her town in Crimea, Yevpatoria. There, she said, there was power only two hours a day. According to her, it was not possible to purchase generators in Crimea and there was a long waiting list for one. Local police had not responded to her call for intervention, she said; the duty officer at the Chaplynka police station confirmed this to the SMM. An activist told the SMM that allowing generators into Crimea would negate the energy blockade’s effect. A customs officer at the administrative boundary line said that since the morning no one had tried to bring a generator into Crimea but many people travelling north had asked about the regulations to that end.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, 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. “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.
Denial of access:
- At a “DPR” checkpoint north of Horlivka, two armed “DPR” members said the SMM needed “transit documents” issued by their “ministry of internal affairs”, “ministry of defence”, and “military command” in order to pass. The SMM turned back.
- While driving towards “LPR”-controlled Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk), two armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM and prevented it from entering the village.
- Armed “LPR” members in a vehicle escorted the SMM while visiting the crossing point on the Ukraine-Russian Federation border in Chervonopartyzansk. The SMM was allowed to observe only from a distance of 150m to the border crossing. In addition, a separate armed “LPR” group from nearby “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk approached and asked the SMM to produce the patrol plan. They stayed next to the SMM during the remainder of the visit and followed the SMM until it left Sverdlovsk.
- A Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier made the SMM wait for 30 minutes outside a permanent weapons storage site until he received approval from his superior.
* 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”.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.