Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 22 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared to previous days. Crater analysis conducted by the SMM indicated the use of multiple launch rocket systems in Donetsk region. The SMM encountered restrictions to its freedom of movement, including at a heavy weapons holding area. The SMM attempted to reach Kominternove in order to follow up on reports about the presence of armed persons in the village.
The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk. Positioned at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard a total of 17 undetermined explosions – two of them were caused by 82mm mortar – and several bursts of small-arms fire at 2.5-5km west-north-west, north-west, north-north-west and north of its position.
The SMM also heard a total of 40 undetermined explosions – 25 of them caused by artillery fire - in government-controlled areas north and north-east of Mariupol, including Berdianske, Starohnativka and Hranitne (18km east, 53km north-east and 47km north-east of Mariupol, respectively).
In government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk), following up on reports on shelling on 20 December, the SMM visited two separate unpopulated locations, where it found two relatively fresh craters. The SMM assessed both of them to have been caused by a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS; BM-21 Grad, 122mm) fired from an east-south-easterly direction.
In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more than 100 mixed explosions and shots of rocket-propelled-grenade, automatic-grenade-launcher, machine-gun and small-arms in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), assessed as training related. Whilst in “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four shots of small-arms fire 2-3km north of its position.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited a “DPR” permanent weapons storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.
In areas beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: seven tanks (four T72 and three T64) in a training area near “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk) and 30-40 tanks in its proximity; 30 tanks (T64 and T72) stationary in a training area near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).
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, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed a total of 25 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm). It also noted that one of the areas was abandoned, as it had been observed recently; there, the SMM had observed 12 MLRSs (BM-21 Grad, 120mm). Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel prevented the SMM from entering one area*.
At such “DPR” holding areas, the SMM observed: nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika 122mm) and two anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
The SMM attempted to reach Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) to follow up on reports about the presence of armed “DPR” members in the village, but was not able to do so due to security concerns: the south-western and north-eastern entrances to the village blocked with mines, trip wires, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance. At a checkpoint at the south-western entrance of the village, the Ukrainian Armed Forces commander told the SMM that in the early morning they had spotted the presence of five tanks, four 120mm howitzers, and 100-150 “DPR” members in the village. Earlier, a civilian resident had told the SMM by phone about the presence of armed persons in camouflage uniforms without insignia.
The SMM monitored the humanitarian situation in an area near the contact line. In government-controlled Krasnohorivka, the SMM saw on-going repair works on the gas pipeline. The acting deputy mayor of the village stated that there had been no gas supply since summer 2014. The SMM observed that the damage caused by shelling in the summer at a market place and gas station was still not repaired. The director of a school told the SMM that the village administration provided electricity only four hours a day; the SMM noted a weak power supply in the school.
The SMM monitored the movement of civilians across the contact line. At a checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 367 civilian vehicles heading west and 77 civilian vehicles heading east. At a checkpoint near government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 813 civilian vehicles heading to Mariupol and 53 vehicles heading to Donetsk. On the “LPR”-controlled side of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 750 civilians waiting to cross into government-controlled areas. The SMM noted that people could cross in groups of approximately 30 and it took 30- 45 minutes for each group to cross.
The SMM monitored the situation at a border crossing point in a government-controlled area of Demyno-Oleksandrivka (182km north-west of Luhansk). The head of the village council told the SMM that the border crossing point 8km away from the village had been closed since March 2015(see SMM Daily Report 9 September 2015) and residents needed to go to the border crossing point in government-controlled Milove (108km north-east of Luhansk) – 220km away from the village – to cross into the Russian Federation.
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 alongside the border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.
Denial of access:
- At a checkpoint east of government-controlled Novotroitske (67km north of Mariupol), Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers did not allow the SMM to proceed further to the village, without giving any explanation.
- Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers denied the SMM access to a heavy weapons holding area, citing that they had no permission to let the SMM enter.
- At a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), armed “LPR” members prevented the SMM from passing through the checkpoint on the grounds that they had been ordered to do so by their superiors.
- At a checkpoint at the southern end of government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel prevented the SMM from proceeding further, without giving an explanation.
* 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”.