Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 10 January 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations, mainly around Donetsk airport, in Horlivka and in the wider area of Kominternove. In particular, there was a significant increase in the number of explosions observed in Horlivka. The Mission liaised with both sides of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) to facilitate adherence to the ceasefire and evacuate an injured woman in Zaitseve. For the first time in over a month, the SMM had access to the border area of Sverdlovsk, where it observed a calm situation.
In Donetsk region, the SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations, most of which were registered around “DPR”-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk), in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) and in the wider area of Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol).
After four consecutive days with no ceasefire violations registered from a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), on 10 January, the SMM heard a total of 23 undetermined explosions and approximately 40 bursts of small-arms fire at locations 4-10km north-west, north-north-west, north-north-east and north-east of its position.
At the night of 9 January, positioned in Horlivka, the SMM heard a total of 70 explosions assessed as impacts of 152mm and 122mm artillery fire, and 36 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of 122mm artillery and automatic-grenade-launcher (AGL) fire, both at locations 4-6km north-north-west of its position. On the next morning, it also heard 15 bursts of small-arms and light-weapons fire at a location 4km north-north-west of its position.
On 10 January, in government-controlled Novhorodske (34km north of Donetsk), a resident informed the SMM that at the evening of 7 January shelling had hit his garden. At the location, the SMM saw two relatively fresh craters and assessed that the fire had originated from a south-westerly direction.
In Luhansk region, the SMM observed an overall calm situation, recording only one firing incident during the reporting period. Namely on 9 January, whilst in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard a loud undetermined explosion occurring at a live-fire training range 3km to the north. Subsequently, a Ukrainian Armed Forces person told the SMM that the explosion had been a controlled detonation of an unexploded anti-tank projectile.
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. All weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the sites were present.
Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: On 9 January, a total of 32 tanks (T-72 and T-64) at two separate locations in the area of “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk); on 10 January, one tank (T-64) loaded on a military-type truck in the area of “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) heading towards “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km 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; BM21 Grad, 122mm) and 15 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm). Two such areas – where the SMM had previously observed in total 18 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) – were found abandoned as they have been since 18 December 2015 (see: SMM Daily Report 19 December 2015).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding area and observed six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). At one such area, armed personnel did not allow the SMM to write down their serial numbers, while the SMM noted six MLRSs (BM21 Grad, 122mm) present.*
The SMM continued to monitor the security situation in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol). On 9 January, the SMM observed approximately 20 “DPR” members in military-type uniform – some of them armed – around a military-type truck (URAL). On both 9 and 10 January, whilst in Kominternove, the SMM recorded in total two bursts of small arms fire.
On 9 January, the SMM liaised with both Ukrainian and Russian Federation representatives at the JCCC, with the aim of facilitating adherence to the ceasefire and evacuating an injured woman and her husband from a stretch of land between Ukrainian Armed Forces positions and “DPR” positions in Zaitseve (50km north of Donetsk). The two had been allegedly caught in cross-fire and were hiding under a vehicle. After the SMM contacted the woman, she and her husband could move from their location to Ukrainian Armed Forces positions by crawling several meters and the woman was transported to the Artemivsk city hospital (government-controlled, 67km north of Donetsk). On the next day, the SMM visited the injured woman in the hospital, who said that while driving with her husband in Zaitseve on the morning of 9 January, they had noticed three men firing at their vehicle with small arms and she had been wounded in the shoulder.
The SMM monitored the economic and humanitarian situation on both sides of the contact line. In government-controlled Lopaskyne (24km north-west of Luhansk), a group of villagers (men and women, aged 35-60) informed the SMM about poor medical assistance and lack of medication. A nurse, whom the SMM spoke with, stated that half of the residents in the village had contracted influenza and one man in his fifties had died when his influenza developed into pneumonia. In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM visited three food stores and found that they were well supplied with food and beverages. It also noted the prices of meat, fruit and dairy products are 10-20 percent higher, and cheese products 40-50 percent higher than in government-controlled areas. In “LPR”-controlled Verhulivka (62km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM spoke with the deputy director of a coal mine, who said that since the conflict began, they had been unable to supply coal to power plants in government-controlled areas and they have acquired no new customers. He added that the number of employees in the mine had decreased from 1,200 before the conflict to 450.
The SMM reached the border area of “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk) for the first time in over a month (see: SMM Daily Report 3 December 2015), despite experiencing a restriction to its freedom of movement.* “LPR” members had repeatedly prevented the SMM from travelling towards the city, on most of these occasions citing an allegedly on-going demining operation, anti-terrorist/smuggling operation, or diversionary groups operating in the area as reasons (see for example: SMM Daily Report 8 January). Whilst in Sverdlovsk, several interlocutors told the SMM that the situation had been calm and that they had not seen or heard about on-going demining or anti-diversionary group operations in the area. The SMM also visited the Dolzhanskaya railway station in Sverdlovsk and spoke with two “LPR” “transport police”, who stated that passenger trains run twice a day (morning and evening) between “LPR”-controlled Fashchivka (69km south of Luhansk) and Sverdlovsk. They added that the railway was mainly used for the transportation of coal, which was being exported to the Russian Federation.
The SMM monitored the situation at border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government, including “DPR”-controlled Marynivka (80km east of Donetsk) and Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), as well as “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartyzansk and Dolziansky (69 and 84km south-east of Luhansk, respectively). On 10 January, at a border crossing point in Uspenka, the SMM observed 105 civilian vehicles queuing to cross into the Russian Federation. It noted that among them 60 vehicles had Ukrainian license plates, 20 “DPR” plates and 25 Russian Federation plates. The SMM saw a man (in his sixties) changing his “DPR” license plates to Ukrainian plates, after which he was allowed to proceed further in crossing procedure.
The SMM followed up on tensions between two religious communities in Ptycha village (148km north-east of Lviv, Rivne region; latest see: SMM Daily Report 6 January 2016). On 10 January, a representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church told the SMM that on the previous day a bus with approximately 20 pilgrims of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church parked near the church building and started singing religious songs. He said that after that local parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate started shaking the bus which ended when police intervened. The interlocutor added that the pilgrims were later beaten up by parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate when they held a procession through the village. According to the interlocutor, a woman was submitted to Dubno district hospital. The SMM will follow up on this incident.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, 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:
- On 9 January, at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, armed personnel did not allow the SMM monitors to check the weapons’ serial numbers.
- On 9 January, in “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk), an armed person denied the SMM access to a facility guarded by three armed “LPR” members. He explained that the SMM needed “permission”.
- On 9 January, at the “LPR”-controlled side of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), armed “LPR” members did not allow the SMM to visit a coal mine, citing that it needed “permission”.
- On 9 January, at a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Chervonyi Zhovten (95km south of Luhansk), armed “LPR” members prevented the SMM from proceeding further towards the border area, asking to see “permission”.
- On 9 January, at a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), armed “DPR” members held the SMM for 20 minutes, asking for “written permission”.
- On 9 January, at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, armed “DPR” members initially prevented the SMM from writing down the serial numbers of present weapons. After the SMM waited for 40 minutes and sought intervention by the JCCC, the armed “DPR” members allowed the SMM to conduct full verification of the withdrawn weapons.
- On 10 January, in “LPR”-controlled Komsomolskyi (56km south-east of Luhansk), two armed persons initially prevented the SMM from travelling towards “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk (61km south-east of Luhansk), citing allegedly on-going demining and anti-diversion operations in the area as a reason. After they contacted their “superior”, they allowed the SMM to proceed further. The SMM was held for ten minutes.
* 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”.