Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 11 January 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed over 20 ceasefire violations involving the use of mortar, all in the wider area of Kominternove, but no ceasefire violations in the area of Donetsk airport. All ceasefire violations in Luhansk region were assessed as live-fire exercises. The Mission saw armed men in Kominternove and spoke to residents. The SMM followed up on casualties from alleged exchange of fire in Zaitseve on 9 January. The SMM followed up on tensions between religious communities in western Ukraine and monitored a peaceful commemoration in Odessa.
In Donetsk region, the SMM did not observe ceasefire violations in the area of Donetsk airport, but registered 20 mortar impacts and several bursts of small-arms fire 500 metres east of its position near the village of Vodiane (19km north-west of Mariupol, 4km south-east of Kominternove).
In Luhansk region, the Mission observed an overall calm situation and all ceasefire violations it registered were assessed as live-fire exercises at known training ranges. Near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), for example, the SMM heard several shots and bursts 300m north of its position.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” permanent weapons storage sites whose locations 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 All weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the sites were present.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: one tank (T-64) loaded on a military-type truck at the southern outskirts of Luhansk city; 15 stationary tanks near “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 government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such a holding area and found it empty of the 12 multiple-launch rocket-systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) it had last observed at this holding area on 1 December. The SMM noted a makeshift mine warning sign in Russian near the pathway leading to the holding area.
In southern Donetsk region, the SMM visited the new bridge across the Kalmius river (see SMM Daily Report 21 December 2015) in Pavlopil (government-controlled, 26km north-east of Mariupol), which it assessed as fully functional. In nearby Orlivske (government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol), the Mission noted that a checkpoint at the entrance of the village was unstaffed.
The SMM continued to monitor the security situation in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) on both sides of the contact line. In the village, the SMM saw at least six armed “DPR” members in military-type uniform. The Mission spoke to a female shop assistant (about 50 years old), who said that there had been no electricity in the area since the early morning; electricity supply was generally unreliable; and there had been no internet connectivity in the village since September 2015. She also told the SMM that, because the village had no formal administration, a so-called “contact group” had been formed by residents who collect money to fix different problems. According to her, there were currently 200 elderly people living in the village. The prices of the products in the local shop were in Ukrainian hryvnia, but she said that because of the presence of “DPR” members, Russian rubles were also accepted.
In Artemivsk (government-controlled, 67km north of Donetsk), the SMM followed up on reported casualties from the 9 January alleged exchange of fire in Zaitseve (50km north of Donetsk, see SMM Daily Report 11 January 2016) with the commander of the National Guard medical unit at Artemivsk military hospital. The commander confirmed that one Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier and one police officer had been killed in the incident. Additionally, he told the SMM that another Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier had been killed in Zaitseve on 10 January, which the SMM confirmed with both the chief of the city hospital in Artemivsk and personnel at the city morgue in Artemivsk.
The SMM monitored the situation at a pedestrian border crossing point in areas not controlled by the Government, near “LPR”-controlled Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk)*. The SMM observed a calm situation in the area and saw 40 people enter the Russian Federation.
The SMM continued to follow up on tensions between two religious communities in Ptycha village (148km north-east of Lviv, Rivne region; latest: see SMM Daily Report 11 January 2016). The SMM revisited the village and spoke with police officers guarding the Dormition church and the head of the Ptycha village council. Additionally, in Dubno (165km north-east of Lviv, Rivne region), the Mission spoke to representatives of the Dubno district police and the director of the Dubno district hospital. The interlocutors said that on 9 January 30-40 Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) pilgrims had arrived in Ptycha. According to the interlocutors, at 11:00hrs on 9 January, the pilgrims and local UOC parishioners visited the Dormition church and had then held a procession around the village. Local parishioners from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) had followed them and verbal confrontations and a scuffle ensued. According to the Dubno police representative, the police had been called around 12:00hrs, after a UOC parishioner (woman, 35 years old) had been hit. According to the director of the Dubno hospital, the victim had been brought to the hospital promptly but was released on 11 January because no serious trauma had been diagnosed. The Dubno police representative told the SMM that it had opened an investigation into charges of ‘minor bodily injury’. Additionally, the SMM was told by the Dubno police representative that one police officer and one local man, both of whom had refused medical assistance, had been injured on 18 December (see SMM Daily Report 24 December 2015). In relation to that incident, the Rivne regional directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs had opened an investigation into charges of hooliganism and resistance to police officers.
The SMM monitored the weekly commemoration at Kulykove Pole in Odessa, site of the tragic events of 2 May 2014. The SMM observed about 40 anti-Maidan activists (mixed gender, 18-75 years old) and eight pro-Maidan activists (mostly men, 25-50 years old). The SMM also observed 25 National Guard officers, separating the two groups. There were an additional police bus, two police vans and four police cars parked behind the Trade Union building. The gathering ended peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, 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:
- In Kominternove “DPR” members prevented the SMM from proceeding towards Vodiane (19km east-north-east of Mariupol).
- Armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from proceeding to Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol) through a “DPR” checkpoint east of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol).
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access to Hranitne (government-controlled, 47km north-east of Mariupol) by not allowing it to pass through a roadblock south-east of Starohnativka (government-controlled, 53km north-north-east of Mariupol).
- Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied the SMM access to Bila Kamianka (“DPR”-controlled, 52km south-east of Donetsk) by not allowing it to pass through a checkpoint at the north-eastern edge of Hranitne.
- Three armed “LPR” members prevented the SMM from proceeding through a checkpoint near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (54km south-east of Luhansk). The individual in charge asked to see the SMM patrol plan and once informed that the destination was the Sievernyi border crossing point (50km south-east of Luhansk), he denied the SMM passage.
* 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”.
 All time references are in Kyiv time unless otherwise specified.