Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 21 January 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It faced restrictions to its freedom of movement, most of which were imposed by “DPR” members in areas north-east of Mariupol*. The Mission spoke to a “DPR” member and civilians at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Horlivka. In Lviv, some 200 coal miners held a peaceful protest over unpaid salaries. In Kyiv, it followed up on electricity supply problems affecting two centres for internally displaced persons.
The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), between 08:30 and 13:15hrs, the SMM observed no ceasefire violations. From a location near Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 36 undetermined explosions in an area 10-15km north-west and north-north-west between 13:27 and 14:00hrs. From Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard eight-ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire in an area to the south at an unknown distance.
In Luhansk region, the SMM heard explosions and small-arms fire near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Yurivka (26km south-west of Luhansk), assessed to have been training exercises. A number of artillery explosions were heard in the area of “LPR”-controlled Troitske (31km south-west of Luhansk) – in violation of the respective withdrawal line - which were assessed to have been training exercises. The SMM saw one controlled explosion carried out by an “LPR” demining team in Brianka (49km west of Luhansk).
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storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all weapons, previously verified as withdrawn to the sites, were present.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: two tanks (T-64, 125mm) and four mortars (PM-38, 120mm) near “LPR”-controlled Yurivka (26km 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 2015 notification. The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.
In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed: six towed guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm), ten multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (Uragan, 220mm), 20 Addendum-regulated tanks (T-64) and 18 Addendum-regulated mortars (2B11, 120mm).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed: six MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), six howitzers (D-30, 122mm), four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and nine Addendum-regulated mortars (PM-38, 120mm). Nine howitzers (D-30, 122mm) were observed as missing, as were four Addendum-regulated mortars (PM-38, 120mm). The SMM also observed that two howitzers (D-30, 122mm) had been moved within the same holding area.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Yurivka.
The SMM spoke to a “DPR” member and civilians at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). According to the “DPR” member, the checkpoint was established on 19 January and is manned by “DPR” “border guards”. According to him, they recorded the passport details of people crossing between “DPR”- and government-controlled areas and that tax was levied on goods crossing the contact line. Although the SMM did not intend to cross the checkpoint, he told the SMM that they would have to provide international passport details if they planned to do so. Civilians queuing to cross complained of the slow checking process and told the SMM it took around 25 minutes. They said that “DPR” members had told them that they could not bring more than 50kg of products into “DPR”-controlled areas. They complained that the checking of goods was random and that it was carried out by people who did not use any equipment to verify the loads.
The SMM observed a protest of 200 coal miners (all men, aged 30-55) outside the Lviv Regional State Administration over the non-payment of salaries for November and December 2015. The protest, watched by 20 police officers, passed off peacefully.
The SMM followed up on the situation affecting two centres for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kyiv that are experiencing problems with the electricity supply. The electricity supply to one centre, in the Holosiivskyi district, was disconnected on 18 January (see SMM Daily Report, 20 January 2016). A resident of this centre told the SMM that they were still without electricity and said that the situation had deteriorated with the fall in temperatures over recent days. A Kyiv city administration official told the SMM that a second centre, the “Dzherelo” sanatorium which houses IDPs in the city, is suffering technical problems with the electricity supply that could cause it to close in the next week. He also said they were searching for alternative housing for the IDPs, but claimed there is a lack of suitable accommodation in Kyiv city.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odesa, 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:
- “DPR” members at a checkpoint in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) denied the SMM passage towards Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) accusing one monitor of being involved in intelligence gathering. “DPR” members told the SMM that they could proceed without the monitor or if he handed over personal equipment that was of no operational use. The SMM refused and turned back. “DPR” members added that if that monitor were part of future patrols to Kominternove, the SMM would not be allowed to enter the village.
- “DPR” members stopped the SMM at a checkpoint near Sakhanka (24km east of Mariupol) and prevented them from travelling into the village. The SMM asked whether they could re-route to Novoazovsk, which was agreed with the “DPR” member, though he added that the SMM was not allowed to turn off the road as they would be watching.
- Five armed “DPR” members at a mobile checkpoint stopped the SMM near Ternove (57km east of Donetsk) and prevented further movement, citing security concerns.
- “LPR” members denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint near Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk) citing security concerns.
- “DPR” members stopped the SMM at a checkpoint in Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol), asked to see its patrol plan, and told monitors to get out of vehicles and hand over IDs. The SMM refused. “DPR” members also wrote down the names of the monitors and checked the interiors of SMM vehicles. The SMM was allowed to proceed after 14 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”.
 All times referred to in this report are in Eastern European Time