Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 15 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM recorded a low number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It experienced freedom-of-movement restrictions in areas not controlled by the Government*. The SMM spoke to medical personnel in Horlivka City Hospital No. 2, where it heard that medication for dialysis patients will run out by 1 January 2016.
The SMM continued to observe a small number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Positioned at an observation point at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 12:43 and 13:54hrs, the SMM heard a total of three undetermined explosions and several bursts of small-arms fire at locations ranging from 3-6km north and north-north-east of its position.
The SMM patrolled two prioritized areas where demining work is expected to be conducted jointly with the facilitation of the SMM. In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), supported by a tandem patrol on the opposite site of the contact line in Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM noted no ceasefire violations.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded eight explosions in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), assessed as training related.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. All weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.
In areas beyond withdrawal lines but outside permanent storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-related weapons: in a training area near “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk), 12 static tanks (T-64 and T-72); in the area of “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south of Luhansk) 16 static tanks (T-64, T-72) involved in training.
In addition, near “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw what appeared to be an anti-aircraft machine-gun (ZU-27, 23mm).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of measures. The SMM is yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October notification (see SMM Daily Report 14 December2015).
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.
At such Ukrainian Armed Forces holding areas, the SMM observed 24 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm and 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm).
In areas beyond withdrawal lines but outside permanent storage sites, the SMM observed the following heavy weapons: near Havrylivka (120km south-east of Dnepropetrovsk), 17 vehicles, including five multiple launch rocket systems (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm), loaded, and four Uragan trans-loaders (9T452), moving east on the H15 highway; in “Lugansk People’s Republic (“LPR”) training area near Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S1, Gvozdika, 122mm).
The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical infrastructure. The SMM continued monitoring repairs to the water pipeline between “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM noted a calm situation in the area. The water company crew conducted repair work at the water pipelines close to the “DPR” checkpoint.
In Horlivka the SMM spoke with the chief doctor of the City Hospital No. 2, who reported an urgent need for medical supplies, in particular, kidney-treatment medicine. According to him, a non-governmental organisation had supplies ready to be delivered to the city, but could not do so without “DPR” “registration”. The SMM saw at the nephrology unit eight patients receiving dialysis treatment out of 46 being under permanent care of this hospital. The chief doctor said that the current medicine for treatment and spare parts for kidney dialysis machines would last until 1 January 2016. According to him, after that date and without a new supply, the hospital will be unable to treat its patients. He said that depending on the individual patient’s condition some of them could survive up to a maximum of two weeks without medication.
In “LPR”-controlled Rovenky (55km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM followed up on reports about an explosion affecting the television broadcasting tower and nearby buildings. The SMM observed minor damage to the metal exterior of one pillar and noticed that window panes in a nearby building facing the pillars as well as on the backside of the building were shattered.
The SMM monitored the movement of civilians across the contact line. At the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM spoke with an “LPR” “commander” who said that the number of civilians crossing the checkpoint had increased from 1,500 to more than 3,000 during the last 24hrs. According to him, the number at this checkpoint had increased as people were forced to use it due to the closure of the checkpoint in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk). At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 335 civilian cars and three mini-vans, with mainly Ukrainian registration plates, in a queue waiting to cross into government-controlled areas. The SMM saw that about 500m away a new Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint had been established; it had been opened as of 15 December, according to personnel at the checkpoint. At this checkpoint, the SMM observed 104 civilian cars, with majority Ukrainian registration plates, in a queue waiting to cross into government-controlled areas. At a government checkpoint near Berezove (32km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw 800 civilian cars with Ukrainian registration plates, in a queue waiting to cross into government-controlled areas. Approximately four hours later, at the same location the SMM observed 500 civilian vehicles. At a government checkpoint in Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM saw 74 civilian cars, with Ukrainian registration plates waiting to cross into government-controlled areas. At the entrance to government-controlled Krasnoarmiisk (55km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw about 60 civilian cars with Ukrainian registration plates in a queue waiting to cross into government-controlled areas.
At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Marinka, the SMM saw for the first time – in violation of the Minsk Memorandum – eight anti-tank mines; checkpoint personnel removed the anti-tank mines and allowed the SMM to pass through the checkpoint. After passing the checkpoint, the SMM observed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel placed the mines back and civilians were not able to pass.
In Chonhar (220km southwest of Kherson), the SMM spoke to the head of the village council. Speaking about the impact of the “Crimea blockade”, she said that many residents continue complaining about the inappropriate behaviour of the blockade activists. According to her, the damaged electricity pylons affected neither the security situation nor the electricity supply for the village.
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 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.
Denial of access:
- At a checkpoint at Olenivka (“DPR”-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), “DPR” members delayed the SMM for 1.5hrs and eventually denied passage. They said that “DPR” “registration” would be needed in order to pass the checkpoint.
Although “DPR” members had agreed to remove a steel rod barrier across the road at the northern entrance to Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) on the main road to Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol) (see SMM Daily Report 13 December 2015), a “DPR” “commander” cancelled the operation after he had received a phone call from his superior. He indicated that the “DPR” would continue restricting SMM’s movement in this way.
* 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”.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.
 All times are in Kyiv time unless otherwise specified.