Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 28 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. An SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (mini-UAV) was caught in small-arms fire. The SMM revisited Kominternove to follow up on reports about the presence of armed persons in the village. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure.
The number of ceasefire violations observed in Donetsk region remained at a similar level compared with the previous days. Positioned at the Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard a total of nine undetermined explosions and several bursts of small-arms fire at locations 3-5km west-north-west and north-west of its position.
In “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Zaichenko and Kominternove (26 and 23km north-west of Mariupol, respectively), the SMM heard a total of six undetermined explosions assessed as caused by mortar occurring at a location to the west. At the same time, positioned 7km west of Kominternove, the SMM also recorded four undetermined explosions occurring at a location 3-4km east-south-east of its position.
In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded a number of firing incidents, most of which it assessed to have been part of training exercises. For example, whilst in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 5km north of its position – assessed to have been part of exercises taking place near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk).
An SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (mini-UAV) was caught in small-arms fire. In “LPR”-controlled Yurivka (26km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 20 single shots of small-arms fire and saw that an armed person – 800m south-west of its position – was firing an AK-47 at an SMM mini-UAV, which it was operating to observe a training ground. The SMM called the mini-UAV back and left the area immediately. The mini-UAV did not sustain any damage. Subsequently, the SMM held a meeting with Ukrainian and Russian Federation representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), where it expressed its concern that the incident happened in spite of the fact that the flight had been notified beforehand with both the JCCC and “LPR” members. Russian Federation representatives of the JCCC stated that due to miscommunication, the “LPR” armed members on the ground had not received necessary information in advance. He added that “LPR” members controlling the area where the incident took place had apologised and given an assurance that such incident would not happen again.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons 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 the serial number of one tank did not match those provided in the inventory. The SMM also revisited an “LPR” 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.
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 six self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and six anti-tank guns (D-48, 85mm).
The SMM revisited Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) to follow up on reports about the presence of armed “DPR” members in the village. In Kominternove, the SMM did not observe any armed persons or weaponry, with the exception of the escorting armed “DPR” members*, while the SMM saw multiple fresh caterpillar traces of tracked military vehicles on the main street. The escorting “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to go beyond the main street of the village, citing security reasons*. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the south-western entrance of the village, the SMM spoke with three civilians coming from Kominternove, who stated that “DPR” members were still in the village and were occupying some abandoned houses.
On the government-controlled side of Zaitseve (50km north of Donetsk), the SMM visited a house, where a woman was allegedly killed by shelling on 26 December (see: SMM Daily Report on 28 December).* The SMM assessed that an 82mm mortar shell had penetrated a window facing the east and observed its crater and bloodstains inside the house. In the front and back of the house, the SMM also saw two other craters and assessed them to have been caused by 82mm mortar originating from the east.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure. The SMM facilitated repairs of water pipelines and pumps near “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) by repairmen of the Luhansk Water Company. Engineers of the company informed the SMM that after completion of the repair work the water supply for most of “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk) and its surrounding areas would be re-established.
The SMM monitored the movement of civilians across the contact line. At a government checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km west of Donetsk), the SMM observed queues of civilian vehicles waiting to cross the checkpoint, 188 heading west and 55 heading east.
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:
- In Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the escorting “DPR” members did not allow the SMM to go beyond the main street of the village, citing security reasons.
- Armed “LPR” members again denied the SMM access to the site of the recently damaged television broadcast tower in “LPR”-controlled Rovenky (55km south of Luhansk), where the SMM intended to confirm alleged damage by explosions (see SMM Daily Reports 18 and 28 December 2015).
- At a “DPR” checkpoint in the southern outskirts of Donetsk city, an armed “DPR” member stopped the SMM and asked to open the glove compartment of its vehicle. After checking its contents, he let the SMM proceed further.
- On the government-controlled side of Zaitseve (50km north of Donetsk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel escorted the SMM.
* 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”.