Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 18 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including the use of multiple-launch rockets systems and mortars. In Luhansk region, the SMM was prevented* to reach the border in an area outside the control of the Government. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor the repairs of a water pipeline in Donetsk region.
The SMM recorded ceasefire violations, including the use of multiple-launch rockets systems (MLRS; BM-21Grad, 122mm) and mortars in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions. From a position at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), between 8:02 and 14:00hrs, the SMM heard six explosions, two airbursts and small-arms fire at locations 3-4km north-west of its position. In Staromykhailivka (“DPR”-controlled, 16km west of Donetsk), between 9:09 and 9:18hrs, the SMM heard six undetermined detonations as well as two outgoing salvos of MLRS (BM21 Grad, 122mm) 2-3km west of its position. Whilst in Petrovskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 12km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 8-10km north-north-west of its position (in the direction of Staromykhailivka).
Whilst approximately 4km south of the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled town of Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard six MLRS rockets (BM-21 Grad 122mm) being fired approximately 3-5km north from its position. The SMM assessed the location of the firing to be near Kalynove. In Bashtevych (“LPR”-controlled, 39km SW of Luhansk), the SMM heard numerous explosions assessed as live-fire exercise involving the use of artillery and mortars 5-6km north of its position.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” permanent weapons storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all weapons, previously verified as withdrawn to the sites, were present.
In violation of the relevant withdrawal line, in the area of “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a mortar (2B11, 120mm) towed by a truck.
In areas beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed 11 tanks (T64) stationary in a training area near “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk). Additionally, outside this training area, the SMM noted 34 tanks (T64 and T72) stationary in a yard adjacent to a farmhouse. The SMM observed two stationary tanks (T64) (one placed on a trailer) near government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk). In government-controlled Oktiabrske (25km north-west of Mariupol), the SMM observed a tank inside a Ukrainian Armed Forces compound.
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 December 2015).
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 government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed: 36 howitzers (18 2A65 Msta B, 152mm and 18 2A36 Giatsint, 152mm). Two such areas – where the SMM had previously observed in total 18 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika 122mm) – were found abandoned for the first time. Two other areas, where the SMM had observed in total 11 MLRS (BM-21 Grad 122mm), were found again abandoned, as they have been for the past three months.
Near “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a UAZ truck loaded with six empty rocket tubes that were consistent with those found on a MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) moving south-west, away from the contact line. The truck was not a standard trans-loader for this type of MLRS.
The SMM noted that two known training areas beyond the withdrawal lines - in the areas of “LPR”-controlled Myrne and Uspenka (41km south-west and 23km south-west of Luhansk, respectively) – were empty, as they had been observed on 16 December. Earlier in December, the SMM had observed: in the area of Uspenka 14 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika 122mm); in the area of Myrne area – four tanks (see SMM Daily Report 14 December 2015 and SMM Daily Report 9 December 2015 respectively).
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to the water pipeline between “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk). In the vicinity of the site – one of the designated priority areas for mine clearance – the SMM heard a series of distant explosions to the north. The chief engineer of the repair team told the SMM that no repair work was to be done in “DPR” areas in the coming days as more demining work had to be done there before repairs could continue. On the Maiorsk side, the SMM noted that repair works continued despite the firing incidents. In “LPR”-controlled Mykolaivka (15km east of Luhansk) the “head” of the “local administration” (woman, approximately 45 years old) told the SMM that running water supply had been restored to the village on 17 December (residents confirmed that to the SMM). According to her, the village had been without water supply for over three weeks, due to issues with the pumping station, which is in a government-controlled area.
Armed “LPR” members prevented the SMM from travelling towards the border area near “LPR”-controlled Diakove (70km south of Luhansk)*. In the border area of government-controlled Harasymivka (38km north-east of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that the area was calm and that the crossing point was closed due to the presence of mines. The SMM observed a calm situation. At the Uspenka border crossing point (“DPR”-controlled, 73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed a queue of 20 civilian cars, all with Ukrainian licence plates and 20 cargo trucks, all with Ukrainian plates except for one, which had Russian Federation plates, waiting to cross into the Russian Federation. The SMM observed a calm situation.
The SMM met in Mariupol two residents (a man and a woman, approximately 50 years old) of Kominternove (23km east-northeast of Mariupol). According to them, the explosive devices at the south-western entrance to the village (see SMM Daily Report 29 October 2015) were still in place. Both opined that a controlled detonation to remove the devices could damage nearby houses. They claimed that on 16 December they had seen Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers in the village, while on 17 December they had seen a group of “DPR” armed men. They stressed what they said was lack of construction material for winterization in the village and insufficient coal supplies.
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 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 alongside the border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
Denial of access:
- “LPR” members stopped and prevented the SMM from travelling towards the border area near Diakove.
* 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 in this report refer to Eastern European time.