Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 6 January 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed relative calm with a small number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. “DPR” members restricted the SMM’s movements during a patrol to Kominternove. The SMM observed weapons missing from storage sites and weapons in use at training areas.
The SMM observed relative calm with a small number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. The SMM observed no ceasefire violations from a position at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre). In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (36km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard three explosions followed by machine-gun fire and two additional explosions assessed to have been impacts of mortar fire, all of which occurred in an area west of the SMM’s position. Positioned in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard a total of four distant explosions during the day.
The overall situation in Luhansk region remained relatively calm, although seven ceasefire violations were heard or observed, most of which were assessed by the SMM to have been related to training exercises or (in one instance) said by an “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) member to have been a controlled detonation.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that six anti-tank guns (D-48) were missing.
Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: eight tanks (T-64 and T-72), stationary at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk); six tanks (four T-64, two T-72) and seven armoured vehicles (four BMP-2, two BMP-1 and one command and control vehicle) on exercise at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October notification.
The SMM revisited locations 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 holding areas and observed: 12 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm); ten MLRS (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm), six of which had been added since the last visit on 24 November; 57 howitzers (six 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm; ten 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm; six 2A18 D-30, 122mm; six 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm; 18 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm; 11 2S3, 152mm); four surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm), observed for the first time; three anti-tank guns (M-44, 85mm); 32 mortars (2B11, 120mm), ten of which were observed for the first time; 20 tanks (T-64, 125mm) and ten anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
“DPR” members stopped the SMM near Zaichenko (25km north-east of Mariupol, 4km east of Kominternove), delayed access for over 30 minutes, and escorted the SMM to Kominternove.* The SMM entered Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) and observed ten armed “DPR” members. Some residents told the SMM that “DPR” members had taken over abandoned houses. Two residents - speaking separately to the SMM – said that the situation in the village was calm and that they had not heard any shelling over the last few nights. “DPR” members initially prevented another SMM patrol from entering Kominternove from the west, but later gave the SMM access, conditioned on not moving east beyond the centre of the village.*
Two residents in government-controlled Lopaskyne (24km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM of an incident that allegedly took place on the afternoon of 5 January when 20-30 armed and uniformed persons searched several homes and recorded residents’ names, passport details, phone and International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers. According to the interlocutors, the armed personnel had said they were from the as yet unidentified “Luhansk 1”.
The SMM continued to observe conditions facing civilians crossing the contact line. According to an “LPR” member at a checkpoint at the southern end of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), approximately 400 civilians had crossed the bridge between 7:00-9:30hrs, 60% of whom crossed into “LPR”-controlled areas. The “LPR” member also said that over the past three days approximately 45 people had been denied access to government-controlled areas because their special permits had expired. At the government-controlled Maiorsk and Zaitseve checkpoints (41km and 50km respectively, north-east of Donetsk) the situation was calm with little traffic observed by the SMM.
Following up on media reports of clashes at a confectionary factory in Zhytomyr (140km west of Kyiv), the SMM went to the location and observed that the entry and exit points were partially blocked by vans and trucks and that police officers were patrolling the perimeter. The Chief of the Zhytomyr Regional Administration of the National Police told the SMM that after clashes between competing groups following their occupation of the factory (see SMM Daily Report, 5 January) - linked to a longstanding ownership dispute between two individuals - police had entered the premises at 01:00hrs on 5 January and had arrested 134 individuals (all male between 20-30 years old). All have been subsequently released. The police have opened criminal cases on charges of hooliganism. The police told the SMM that among the weapons they seized from the factory were a hunting rifle, one F1 grenade and a traumatic gun (Flober). According to the police, no-one was injured during the course of the dispute.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk and 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:
- Armed “DPR” members at a checkpoint at the western entrance to Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) stopped the SMM and denied access. The SMM left the area but returned one hour later, when a “DPR” member told the SMM that they could proceed only a specified distance into the village and no further.
- Armed “LPR” members denied the SMM access to an “LPR” camp in Almazna (55km west of Luhansk).
- Two “DPR” members, one of whom was armed, stopped the SMM at a mobile checkpoint in an area 5km east-north-east of Zaichenko (25km north-east of Mariupol, 4km east of Kominternove) for over 30 minutes before the SMM was allowed to proceed with a “DPR” vehicle escort.
* 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”.