Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 4 January 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
In Donetsk region, the SMM observed a small number of ceasefire violations– all but one were recorded around Donetsk airport. In Luhansk region, the SMM did not observe any ceasefire violations for the second consecutive day. In Kominternove and surrounding areas, the SMM observed a calm situation. The SMM experienced six freedom-of-movement restrictions, including denial of access to Kominternove from the east and to border areas not controlled by the Government*. The Ukrainian Armed Forces prevented the SMM from flying an SMM UAV.
The SMM observed relative calm with only a small number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Positioned at the Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard a total of 15 undetermined explosions and multiple bursts of small-arms fire at locations 2.5-5km north and north-north-east of its position. The SMM recorded one undetermined explosion whilst at a checkpoint at the eastern outskirts of Mariupol (government-controlled, 102km south of Donetsk).
The overall situation in Luhansk region was relatively calm. The SMM did not record any ceasefire violations for the second consecutive day.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent weapon storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines. All weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the sites were present. The SMM also revisited a “Donetsk People’s Republic”(“DPR”) permanent weapon storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all weapons, previously verified as withdrawn to the site, were present.
Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 24 tanks, stationary in a training area near “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“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 for permanent storage sites in the 16 October notification.
In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such a holding area and observed eight tanks (T-72).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM also revisited such holding areas and observed: 9 mortars (PM-38, 120mm) and 13 towed howitzers (D30, 122mm).
The SMM monitored the security situation in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM observed that the explosive devices which had been placed at the south-western entrance to the village – near a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint – had been removed (see: SMM Daily Report 23 December 2015) and therefore it could approach the village from the west. In Kominternove, the SMM observed a calm situation, and noted the presence of approximately 15 armed “DPR” members and several armed vehicles (BMP-2 and BTR). Meanwhile, the SMM could not reach the village from the east, as armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access to the village* at a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol). The SMM also visited Vodiane (19km north-west of Mariupol, 4km south-east of Kominternove) where it did not see any armed persons or any civilians. The SMM noted one Ukrainian national flag hung on a small residential house. Whilst in the areas around Kominternove, the SMM did not record any ceasefire violations.
The SMM monitored the situation at a border crossing point in government-controlled Hoptivka (40km north of Kharkiv). The head of the border guards in Hoptivka told the SMM that since 1 January, the number of people crossing the border in both directions had decreased by more than one third. He added that no truck had crossed with the exception of unloaded trucks arriving from the Russian Federation. During its time there, the SMM saw several vehicles and four pedestrians carrying luggage but no queue of vehicles on the Ukrainian side of the crossing point.
Following up on media reports of a raider attack on a confectionary factory in Zhytomyr (140km west of Kyiv), the SMM spoke with a group of employees who were blocking the entrance to the factory. They stated that on 30 December 2015 some 350 young men had forcibly entered the factory and blocked its entrance with large trucks, but on 3 January workers, together with the police, had been able to expel those who had occupied the facility from its premises. The SMM observed that two trucks with smashed windows and punctured tires were still near the entrance and another two trucks of the employees were blocking the entrance. Inside the factory, the SMM also noted 100 workers were fixing broken windows and 20 police officers were observing.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi.
*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 government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer did not allow the SMM to fly its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the area. He stated that he had been ordered to prevent the launching for security reasons.
- At a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (88km south of Donetsk, 4km east of Kominternove), armed persons prevented the SMM from travelling further towards Kominternove, citing the “presence of snipers in the area”.
- At the entrance of “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk), four armed persons in a civilian vehicle with “LPR” armed units license plates stopped the SMM and told them to leave the area immediately. They told the SMM that they had received orders from their “superiors” not to allow the SMM to proceed further due to on-going demining activities and live-fire exercises nearby “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartizansk (66km south-east of Luhansk).
- At a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk), armed persons did not allow the SMM to pass, explaining that they had not been informed about the SMM’s visit by their “chain of command”.
- At a checkpoint at the northern outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Lukove (71km south of Donetsk), armed persons held the SMM for 10 minutes and allowed the SMM to proceed further up to a checkpoint at the southern outskirts of Lukove on condition that they were escorted.
- At a checkpoint at the southern outskirts of Lukove, an armed person delayed the SMM for 33 minutes, while he was waiting for orders from his “superiors”.
* 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”.