CORRECTION: Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 7 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 and no ceasefire violations in the area near Donetsk airport. In Horlivka, armed “DPR” members temporarily held SMM monitors, and forced them to the ground at gunpoint. In areas not controlled by the Government, the SMM was denied access on five occasions and was granted conditional access at one occasion.
In Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) armed “DPR” members – in a firing posture – stopped the SMM.* In a highly aggressive manner, they forced monitors from their vehicles at gunpoint, and forced them to the ground where their hands were roughly placed behind their backs and their legs kicked apart. The monitors were then forced back up onto their feet and aggressively marched at gunpoint into a nearby building, where the armed men instructed them to turn off their phones and empty their pockets. The monitors were released after 35 minutes.
The SMM observed relative calm with a small number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. The SMM observed for the second consecutive no ceasefire violations from a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre). In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 12 single shots by small arms which occurred in an area south-east of its position. In “DPR”-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM heard one undetermined explosion in an area north-east of its position.
The overall situation in Luhansk region remained relatively calm, although the SMM heard near “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (50km west of Luhansk) around 100 shots by small arms which occurred in an area north-east of the SMM’s position. “LPR” members told the SMM that the shooting came from their own local training range.
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. All weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the sites were present.
In violation of respective withdrawal line and outside storage sites, the SMM observed one tank (T-72) on a flatbed vehicle in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city.
Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 25 tanks (type unknown) stationary at a training area in “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 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 “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed: 21 howitzers (13 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm; two D-30, 122mm; six 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
In “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM found an “LPR” camp to be unstaffed at the time of its visit. The SMM observed the absence of a multi-purpose light-armoured towing vehicle (MTLB) observed last on 6 January and saw track marks suggesting the MTLB had been moved in a westerly direction.
The SMM visited the sites of the previously damaged electric pylons in Chaplynka (90km south-east of Kherson) and Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson) and found the situation to be calm. No electricity was going through the lines along the pylons. In Chaplynka the tent, formerly occupied by the Crimea blockade activists, was empty, whereas in Chonhar the SMM observed that a similar tent had been removed and the place was abandoned.
In Lviv, the SMM discussed the situation of the Russian Cultural Centre in the town with representatives of the “Congress of the Russian Communities of the Western Region of Ukraine” and the non-governmental organization (NGO) “Russian Community”. They expressed concern about media reports suggesting a possible termination of the lease contract for the premises hosting the Russian Cultural Centre by the Regional Council. According to the interlocutors, the Russian Cultural Centre in Lviv is considered as a centre of cultural activities of the Russian community in western Ukraine. The SMM also monitored the inspection of the Centre by three members of the regional administration commission, who confirmed the Centre’s premises would be on the agenda of the Regional Council session on 26 January.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Odessa, 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:
- Armed “DPR” members at a checkpoint in the vicinity of Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) stopped the SMM and denied access, citing security reasons due to alleged sniper activity in the area.
- A “DPR” member, who presented himself as the checkpoint “commander”, at the western entrance to Kominternove stopped the SMM and denied access referring to orders he had received from his superior.
- At a checkpoint in Zaichenko (25km north-east of Mariupol, 4km east of Kominternove), five “DPR” members denied the SMM access to Kominternove.
- In “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk the SMM was escorted by two armed men without proceeding towards “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartyzansk (64km south-east of Luhansk) and the border crossing point. They cited as reason an allegedly on-going anti-terrorist/smuggling operation, and diversionary groups operating in the area.
- In “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk two armed men stopped the SMM and introduced themselves as “LPR” members being from Sverdlovsk and had instructions to escort the SMM through the town. They cited as reason an allegedly on-going anti-terrorist/smuggling operation, and diversionary groups operating in the area.
* 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”.