Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 16 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM recorded a low number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and none in Luhansk region. It experienced freedom-of-movement restrictions in areas not controlled by the Government*.
The SMM continued to observe a low number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Positioned 6km north-west of Donetsk city-centre between 9:00 and 15:15hrs, the SMM heard 15 explosions: three undetermined 4-6km to the north-west, one 122mm mortar impact 4-6km to the north-west, and eleven 82mm mortars 5-6km to the west-south-west.
Near “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) – a prioritized area where demining work is expected to be conducted – the SMM heard 27 undetermined explosions at locations 5-7km to the north-east, north, north-north-west and north-west, as well as 20 single shots of small arms to the north-north-west.
At another area prioritized for demining – between “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) – the SMM heard two mortar impacts and approximately ten small-arms rounds at a location 1.5km to the west. The chief engineer of the water company carrying out SMM-facilitated repairs to the water pipeline suspended work as a result.
North of “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk), the SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical infrastructure. Approximately 20 workers successfully carried out repair work on broken water pipes in the area.
The SMM did not observe any ceasefire violations in Luhansk region.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. All weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the sites were present except at one site, where two previously-recorded mortars (MTR 2B9 Vasilyok, 82mm) were missing.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Beyond respective withdrawal lines but outside of heavy weapons permanent storage sites, the SMM observed: three towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) close to government-controlled Melekyne (19km south-west of Mariupol).
The SMM also noted the presence of other military hardware, namely, an armoured tracked vehicle (MT-LB) mounted with a 14.5mm gun (ZPU2) near “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk); and, an anti-aircraft missile system (OSA S-8) near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk).
In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), a school headmistress told the SMM that 235 pupils from five other local schools – closed because of conflict-related damage or utility-supply problems, according to her – had been transferred to the school. The SMM on previous visits to the town observed damage to the schools. Despite this, the school’s enrolment numbers had more than halved since the start of the conflict. At an agricultural vocational college in the town, the headmaster told the SMM that 10% of the college’s adjoining 760-hectare farm was mine-infested. He added that classes had been suspended since 1 December because of heating and electricity-supply problems, and would not re-start until 29 February. The SMM noted that the town had no electricity.
The SMM monitored the movement of civilians across the contact line. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint close to the bridge south of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed approximately 150 people waiting to cross to areas not controlled by the Government, and a similar number waiting to cross in the opposite direction.
At a checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk), an “LPR” member armed with a rifle with a silencer interrupted a conversation the SMM was having with three other armed “LPR” members, and insisted that the SMM immediately leave the area*.
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 close to the border with the Russian Federation in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
Denial of access:
- East of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the SMM noted the continued presence of a metal barrier on the E58 road, blocking access to areas further east (see Daily Report 16 December 2015).
- At a checkpoint west of “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol), armed “DPR” members denied passage to the SMM.
- At a checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (different from the one mentioned above), armed “LPR” members held the SMM for 30 minutes, saying they had not been informed of SMM movement plans. The situation was resolved when their superior arrived.
- At a checkpoint near Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), an armed “LPR” member insisted on searching SMM vehicles before allowing them to proceed.
* 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 complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.
 All times are in Eastern European Time, unless otherwise specified.