Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 6 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM recorded a sharp spike in ceasefire violations on 6 December. It continued to note partial compliance in relation to the withdrawal of prohibited weapons from the security zone. It observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in several locations, with one of its patrol vehicles sustaining slight damage when a device exploded close to it. The SMM had free access to areas it wished to patrol along the international border not under the control of the Government but its freedom of movement was restricted in a number of other places*.
The SMM recorded ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Positioned 6km north-west of Donetsk – between 9:45 and 14:51hrs on 5 December – the SMM heard 22 explosions accompanied by bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, 3-8km to the west, north-west and north. The following day at the same location – between 9:00 and 15:55hrs – the SMM heard 181 explosions, as well as sporadic small-arms and light-weapons fire, 3-10km to the west-south-west, west-north-west, north-west, north-north-west, north, and north-north-east. Throughout the two-day reporting period, the SMM recorded explosions and small-arms and light-weapons fire in numerous other locations along and close to the contact line, particularly on 6 December. Of note were 55 undetermined explosions and small-arms and light-weapons fire the SMM recorded on 6 December whilst positioned in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk); and, ten explosions recorded on 6 December while positioned near government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk).
On 5 December in the “DPR”-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM – following up on reports of shelling allegedly resulting in the death of a woman – saw no indications supporting the allegations: no crater or shrapnel, or any other evidence showing that a person had been injured or killed at the location where armed “DPR” members present said the alleged incident had happened. Large numbers of journalists present prevented the SMM from interviewing a potential witness to the alleged incident.
On 5 December, the SMM observed a continued Ukrainian Armed Forces presence in the government-controlled villages of Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol), and a smaller presence in Pyshchevyk, 2km to the south.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) permanent weapons storage sites, the locations of which corresponded with the withdrawal lines. All previously-recorded weapons were present.
Also in areas beyond the withdrawal lines – but outside storage sites – the SMM observed on 6 December the following Addendum-related weapons: six tanks near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west); and, one tank (T-64) near government-controlled Kostiantynivka (64km north of Donetsk).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of measures. Members of the “LPR” had provided the SMM with an inventory of heavy weapons, their serial numbers and the locations at which they are said to be stored, as requested by the SMM on 16 October. The Ukrainian military authorities had earlier provided an inventory list of military equipment featuring weapons systems as well as their serial numbers. The “DPR” has yet to provide the requested inventory of heavy weapons and locations of designated permanent storage sites for these weapons.
The SMM revisited locations beyond the respective withdrawal lines 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 “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such a holding area and observed 13 previously-recorded towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm). Nine other towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) previously recorded were missing.
The SMM also observed a number of Addendum-related weapons – namely, nine mortars (PM-38, 120mm) – located at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area. Nine other mortars (PM-38, 120mm) previously recorded there were missing.
In addition to heavy weapons at holding areas, the SMM on 5 December observed the following heavy weapons in areas in violation of the withdrawal lines: 12 howitzers (D-30) in “LPR”-controlled Yurivka (26km south-west of Luhansk), where an armed “LPR” member fired a number of rounds from an automatic rifle into the air as an SMM patrol approached, and another armed “LPR” member pointed his automatic rifle at the SMM, forcing the patrol to leave the area (see Spot Report, 5 December 2015). The SMM also observed heavy weapons in an area beyond the withdrawal lines: four towed howitzers (D-30) near government-controlled Kramatorsk (83km north of Donetsk).
The SMM monitored the presence of other hardware. It observed: on 5 December, one armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM) near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk); one armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR-3) near government-controlled Kostiantynopil (60km north of Donetsk); one armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM) near government-controlled Olhinka (40km south-west of Donetsk); two APCs (BTR-80) near government-controlled Pavlivka (53km south-west of Donetsk); one APC (BTR) near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk); two towed 23mm anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23) near government-controlled Kramatorsk (83km north of Donetsk); four armoured tracked vehicles (MTLB) near government-controlled Kostiantynivka (64km north of Donetsk); three armoured tracked vehicles (MTLB) near “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km south-east of Donetsk); two APCs (BTR-80) near government-controlled Mykilske (75km north-west of Mariupol); and, two infantry fighting vehicles (BMP) and two APCs (BTR-70) near government-controlled Starohnativka (53km north-east of Mariupol). On 6 December, the SMM observed one tracked infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1) with a mounted 73mm cannon and one tracked APC (BTR-D) near “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk); two armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM) near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk); three infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1) near government-controlled Pobeda (27km south-west of Donetsk); and, one APC (BTR-60) near “LPR”-controlled Bile (20km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). On 5 December in government-controlled Opytne (11km north-west of Donetsk), an SMM patrol vehicle sustained minor damage – including shrapnel penetration – when a device exploded close to it. There were no injuries. On 5 December, close to a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in government-controlled Verkhnotoretske (25km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed five anti-tank mines placed by the side of the road, with clearly visible warning signs next to them. On 6 December, close to a “DPR” checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed six anti-tank mines on the side of the road, with no warning signs. On 6 December, close to a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed two anti-personnel mines (PMN-2) on the side of the road; neither were marked. On another road close to the town, the SMM observed what it assessed to be a directional anti-personnel mine. On 6 December in government-controlled Vodiane (16km north-west of Donetsk), ten elderly men and women told the SMM that 60 people remained in the village, compared to a pre-conflict population of 460. They said remaining households had received three tons of coal from an international non-governmental organization but it was insufficient to meet their heating needs. Accessing the only alternative source of heating – firewood from nearby woods – they said entailed great risk due to the presence of UXO and booby traps.
The SMM visited areas alongside the international border and border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government, where it noted a calm situation.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, and Kyiv.
*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 adjacent to the international border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
Denial of access:
- On 5 December, armed “LPR” members refused to allow the SMM passage through a checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Irmino (54km west of Luhansk), explaining that they had been ordered to do so by their superiors.
- On 5 December, at a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km east-north-east of Mariupol), armed “DPR” members held the SMM for approximately 30 minutes before allowing them to pass.
* 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”.
 All times are in Eastern European Time unless otherwise specified.