Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 7 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed a significant number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and one in Luhansk region. It monitored the withdrawal of weapons. The Mission facilitated and monitored demining and repair works on both sides of the contact line. The SMM encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority in areas not under government control.* The Mission followed up on an explosion in Kherson that damaged the exterior of a Crimean Tatar Majlis office.
The SMM observed ceasefire violations in several locations in Donetsk region. Whilst at the “DPR”-controlled central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) on 6 February between 8:35 and 15:20hrs, the SMM heard a total of 13 undetermined explosions and three bursts, as well as up to ten single shots of heavy machine-gun, 3-7km north, north-east, north-north east, north-west, and north-north west of its position. On 6 February, the SMM recorded 30 undetermined automatic grenade launcher explosions and one explosion assessed as caused by 120mm mortar in the area of Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk) 2km from its position. On 7 February, the SMM recorded seven explosions assessed as caused by 82mm mortar near Oleksandrivka (“DPR”- controlled, 20km south-west of Donetsk).
In Luhansk region, the SMM observed small-arms live-fire training at the Trokhizbenka (government-controlled, 33km north-west of Luhansk) training range on 6 February and no ceasefire violations on 7 February.
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures.
On 7 February, the SMM visited a compound in Luhansk city. There, the SMM observed – in violation of respective withdrawal lines - three tanks (one T-72 and two T-64s), one vehicle for transporting tanks, as well as five tanks and approximately 40 armoured vehicles of different types, which an “LPR” armed member claimed were being used for spare parts.
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 24 tanks (T-64) in an “LPR” training area near Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) and one tank (T-64) along a nearby road.
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.
In violation of respective withdrawal lines the SMM saw, in what the Ukrainian Armed Forces said were holding areas, six towed anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm; all weapons were connected to multi-purpose armoured vehicles (MT-LB) carrying boxes with ammunition), and 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm; 15 of which were connected to military trucks loaded with ammunition).
The SMM revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and found all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site present.
The SMM also 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 locations and observed: 18 towed guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm).
The SMM monitored the presence of other hardware. In the area of Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), on 6 February the SMM observed a “DPR” convoy heading north on H20 road comprised of two armoured personnel carriers (BTR-70), an Ural truck towing another BTR-70, two ZIL trucks, and seven GAZ-66 trucks, the majority of which appeared to be radio relay stations. There was also a “DPR” “police” car in the middle of the convoy. On 6 February, while near “LPR”-controlled Malomykolaivka (36km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed four military-type trucks (three Ural, one Kamaz) carrying armed men toward “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). At an “LPR” compound in Luhansk city, the SMM observed approximately 30 Kamaz trucks, three MAZ oil tankers, and two communications vehicles on 7 February.
The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties. On 7 February, the SMM visited Petrovskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 20km south-west of Donetsk), where a 53 year-old man had reportedly been killed by shrapnel on 6 February. The area of the incident was a one-lane unpaved road with one-storey houses with metal fences on both sides of the road. The SMM observed one crater on the road, approximately two meters from the fence of a house. At the southern end of the crater, the SMM observed what appeared to be blood stains. The SMM was not able to determine the direction of fire or ammunition because cars had driven over the crater after the impact. However, the SMM observed several fragment impacts on fences on both sides of the road, some of which were clearly caused by a recent shrapnel-producing explosion. A neighbour the SMM spoke with said that the victim had been taken to Hospital No.14. In the trauma ward of Hospital No.14 nurses confirmed to the SMM that the victim had arrived at the hospital and shortly after had been transported to the city morgue in Kalyninski district. The SMM spoke with the morgue personnel, who confirmed that the remains of the victim had arrived at the morgue at 22:00hrs on 6 February. In Horlivka, on 7 February, the SMM followed up on reports that a nine-year-old girl had been injured by shrapnel. The SMM spoke to the duty doctor from Hospital No. 2, who confirmed that on 6 February at 15:00hrs, a girl with shrapnel wounds in the left arm and left leg had been admitted, but her injuries were not life-threatening.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line. In Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM followed up on reports of shelling damaging houses. The SMM visited two properties, and observed at the first location that one mortar round impact had destroyed a fence, whereas at the second location, the mortar impact had destroyed a small building in the backyard of the house. The SMM conducted crater analysis at the first location and assessed that the crater had been caused by an 82mm mortar round impact from a west-south-westerly direction. Three residents of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) had remained closed to all traffic. On 7 February the SMM observed that a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Irmino (54km west of Luhansk) was unstaffed and the cabin had been removed. On 6 February, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an initial survey of government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk), which revealed extensive damage to properties throughout the village.
The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). On 7 February, the SMM observed at least eight anti-tank mines near a Ukrainian Armed Forces position between Starohnativka (government-controlled, 50km south of Donetsk) and Bila Kamianka (“DPR”-controlled, 55km north-east of Mariupol), blocking the road. The SMM has been observing the presence of anti-tank mines there since February 2015. On 7 February, the SMM saw again (see SMM Daily Report 2 February 2016) the tail of a multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) rocket (assessed as BM27 Uragan, 220mm) less than 50m from school No. 6 in Debaltseve (“DPR”-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk). On 7 February, in government-controlled Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed three unexploded MLRS rockets (B-27 Uragan, 220mm) stuck in the ground in a populated area (see SMM Daily Report 14 November 2015). Three residents (men, over 60 years-old) told the SMM that there were four more such UXO in the village, and residents were afraid to cultivate the land around them.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to critical infrastructure. Whilst near the gas pipeline repair site near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), on 6 February the SMM recorded ten undetermined explosions 2-7km north-east of its position. In the same area on 7 February the SMM registered one undetermined explosion 6-10km north of its position. On both days, repair works continued regardless, but were limited to an area close to the road. The SMM also noted ongoing demining and repairs to water pipelines at the northern outskirts of Horlivka on 6 and 7 February. Whist near the repair site on 6 February, the SMM registered within ten minutes over 30 explosions (including explosions caused by 120mm mortar and automatic grenade launcher) 2km east-south-east of its position, in the direction of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk). In Luhansk region, the SMM noted continuing demining and repair work on the Karbonit water system in the vicinity of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and monitored the situation on both sides of the contact line. On 6 February, the SMM spoke with the head of the demining team from the Ukrainian State Emergency Service, who said that demining is to continue until the end of March. On 7 February, the SMM spoke to the repair team who said they had made progress in repairing the water pipelines that cross the contact line.
The SMM visited border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government. At the “DPR”-controlled Uspenka border crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed 26 civilian vehicles (24 with Ukrainian and two with Russian Federation registration plates) and 27 trucks (26 with Ukrainian and one with Belorussian registration plates) queuing to cross into the Russian Federation. Travellers at the front of the queue stated that they had been waiting for three hours. At the crossing point in Marynivka (“DPR-controlled, 78km east of Donetsk), the SMM observed one truck with Ukrainian registration plates and four civilian cars, three with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation registration plates, in a queue to cross into the Russian Federation. Travellers at the front of the queue stated they had been waiting for 15 minutes. At the pedestrian border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed around 70 civilian vehicles parked and ten pedestrians crossing from the Russian Federation. One of the “LPR” “border guards” told the SMM that more than 700 people had crossed into the Russian Federation on 6 February.
The SMM followed up on reports of an explosion outside the office of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis in Kherson, which took place in the early hours of 7 February. The SMM observed that one glass door was shattered and there was shrapnel scarring to the stone work around the door frame. There were no reported casualties. The SMM spoke to the head of the office who said that it had only recently been opened and its presence had not been widely advertised. He also said that the Crimean Tatar Community Association has a separate office elsewhere in the city and that office had also been subject to an offensive graffiti incident some days before.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Odessa, Lviv, 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 6 February, armed “DPR” members denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint east of Petrivske (“DPR”-controlled, 45km north-east of Mariupol);
- On 7 February, armed “DPR” members denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint in Kominternove towards “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol);
- On 7 February, near a “DPR” position south of Kirove (government-controlled, 42km north of Donetsk), armed “DPR” members threatened to shoot down the SMM short-range unmanned aerial vehicle;
- On 7 February, en route from Kominternove to Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM encountered again an unmanned makeshift barricade which prevented it from travelling further (see SMM Daily Report 3 February 2016).
- On 7 February, armed “DPR” members delayed the SMM at the Novolaspa checkpoint (“DPR”-controlled, 53km north-east of Mariupol) for 18 minutes.
- On 7 February armed “LPR” members at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge insisted on recording SMM monitors’ names and identification card numbers.
- On 7 February an “LPR” armed member at a compound in Luhansk city told the SMM that taking photographs inside the compound was not allowed.
 All times in this report are in Eastern European Time.