Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 29 December 2015
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed ceasefire violations in southern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The SMM visited the area of Kominternove to monitor the security situation. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure. The SMM observed farmers’ protests in Kherson and Chernivtsi region.
Ceasefire violations were registered in the southern part of the Donetsk region. The SMM did not note ceasefire violations in the areas around Donetsk airport.
Whilst in government-controlled Buhas (60km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 15 explosions assessed as mortar fire occurring at an undetermined distance south-east of its location.
In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded a number of firing incidents, all of which it assessed to have been part of training exercises. For example, whilst in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Krasny Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard several explosions and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3km north of its position – assessed to have been part of live-fire exercises taking place at a known training ground near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk).
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapons storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines. The SMM noted that the following weapons previously verified as withdrawn to this site were missing: two mortars (2B9, 82mm) and 15 tanks (seven T72, eight T64). 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storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to this site were present.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 27 tanks (T-64) and 23 anti-tank guns (MT12 Rapira, 100mm). At these government-controlled holding areas, the SMM noted that the following weapons were missing: 19 anti-tank guns (18 MT12 Rapira, 100mm, one T-12, 100mm), four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), four towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint, 152mm), four tanks (T-64) and eight tank destroyers (MT-LB, 9P149 fitted with 9K114 Shturm). The self-propelled and towed howitzers and the tank-destroyers have been continuously noted as missing since 12 July 2015. One area where the SMM had previously registered six self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) was found empty.
In violation of relevant withdrawal lines, the SMM observed one anti-tank guided missile system (9K111 Fagot, 120mm) at a Ukrainian Armed Forces position near government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk).
The SMM observed that the previously-reported six wired anti-tank mines (see SMM Daily Report 16 December 2015) were still present at the first Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near the western entrance to the village of Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk).
In southern Donetsk region, the SMM visited government-controlled Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol), where it continued to observe the Ukrainian Armed Forces presence with no significant change since the last SMM visit to the village (see SMM Daily Report 21 December 2015). The SMM spoke with a group of residents (female, approximately 50 years old) who stated that the delivery of food and other items from Mariupol had significantly improved since the checkpoint near Hnutove (government-controlled, 20km north-east of Mariupol) had been moved to Pyshchevyk (government-controlled, 25km north-east of Mariupol) on 25 December. The SMM visited the Pyshchevyk checkpoint and found it fully operational.
The SMM visited the area south-west of Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) to monitor the security situation. At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint located approximately 5km south-west of the village, the checkpoint commander told the SMM that the security situation had remained calm over the past 24hrs. At the last Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint, located approximately 1.5km south-west of Kominternove, the SMM observed two civilian vehicles travelling to the village. Whilst at that location, the SMM heard five explosions occurring at an undetermined distance south of its position.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of critical infrastructure. The SMM continued to facilitate repairs of water pipelines and pumps near “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) by repair staff of the Luhansk Water Company (see SMM Daily Report 29 December 2015). Engineers of the company informed the SMM that repair work is expected to continue until at least 31 December.
The SMM monitored the movement of civilians across the contact line. At the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed about 100 civilian pedestrians of mixed gender and age queuing at the last government-controlled checkpoint prior to crossing the bridge into “LPR”-controlled areas. The SMM counted approximately 50 individuals pass through the government-controlled checkpoint in that direction between 12:15 – 12:35hrs. The SMM did not observe a queue on the other side of the checkpoint. The SMM also observed how several persons, many of whom were elderly and with limited mobility, had difficulty walking up and down the icy wooden pedestrian ramps that were installed to connect the parts of the destroyed bridge.
The SMM followed up on the creation of a self-defence force in Kalanchak (96km south-east of Kherson). In the town, the SMM spoke to one of the initiators of the self-defence group. He informed the SMM that on 27 December, 70 volunteers from the local community had joined the Kalanchak self-defence group (see SMM Daily Report 28 December 2015). He said three members had joined regular police patrols in the Kalanchak district. The interlocutor added that after the holiday season they would like the group to patrol independently, without the police.
The SMM observed farmers temporarily blocking roads in protest of tax code reforms. In Kherson the SMM observed a group of some 200 farmers stopping traffic in both directions by walking back and forth across a pedestrian crosswalk adjacent to Kherson’s only bridge across the Dnepr river. Five traffic police officers and some 30 officers from the Kherson regional police department were present at the scene. Likewise, in Ataky village (60km north-east of Chernivtsi), the SMM observed a similar protest of farmers consisting of some 20 people (of various ages, including two women) constantly crossing the main road connecting the cities of Chernivtsi and Khmelnytskyi and thus blocking all traffic from and towards Khmelnytskyi region (except one bus and one truck, which were allowed to pass after discussions). The SMM spoke to some protesters who stated that the roadblock was organized to protest against tax reform, which they claimed would abolish the Value Added Tax regime, seen as advantageous to farmers, and thus harm their interests. They also said that the protest had begun on 28 December and would be held every day between 10:00 and 18:00hrs. Four police officers were present, including a traffic police officer, and were directing approaching vehicles towards alternative roads.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk 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.
- Armed “LPR” members delayed the SMM launching its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for 30 minutes near “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk). The “LPR” “commander” initially told the SMM that it could not fly the UAV over the area. The SMM was allowed to conduct the flight after the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination intervened and the armed men received instructions from their superiors.
- Armed “LPR” members delayed the SMM’s access through the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge for some 20 minutes and only allowed the SMM to proceed after collecting their OSCE ID cards and possibly making copies of them.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.