Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 14 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed a large number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and followed up on reports of shelling in government- and non-government-controlled areas. Residents on both sides of the contact line in Donetsk region told the Mission that they heard shelling almost every night. The Marinka checkpoint was temporarily closed due to fighting on 13 February, the Ukrainian Armed Forces told the SMM. The SMM observed long queues of civilians at checkpoints near the contact line. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. In Mariupol the SMM observed 200 internally displaced persons calling for demining in Shyrokyne. In Lviv, the Mission monitored a gathering of 200 people marking the formation of the Falcon organization.
The SMM observed a large number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region on 13 and 14 February. On 13 February, from positions in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk) and government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM saw and heard an intense two-hour exchange of fire between “DPR”- and government-controlled areas. Between 9:25 and 11:28hrs the SMM saw and heard almost continuous incoming and outgoing fire which involved hundreds of rounds of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, over 100 rounds from automatic grenade launchers (assessed as 30mm calibre) and rocket-propelled grenades, and at least 12 mortar rounds (assessed as 82mm calibre). From its position in Oleksandrivka the SMM observed several impacts and airbursts in “DPR”-controlled areas, approximately 1-5km away to the west and north-west, one impact from an 82mm mortar 500m to the north and one impact approximately 3km west-north-west of its position, which struck a house that subsequently caught fire. Nurses at the nearby Central City Hospital in the Petrovskyi district (16km south-west of Donetsk city centre) told the SMM that no one had been admitted with injuries from the shelling. At 11:40hrs, the Ukrainian Armed Forces Colonel from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) informed the SMM that the Marinka checkpoint had been temporarily closed as a result of the fighting. On 14 February the SMM observed 176 cars queued to travel west at the Marinka checkpoint. No vehicles were queued in the other direction.
On 13 February, between 14:05 and 23:00hrs, from government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard approximately 200 undetermined explosions that involved mortars, automatic grenade launchers and bursts of small-arms and recoilless gun fire (SPG-9), and approximately 60 shots from an armoured personnel carrier (BMP-1) gun (73mm), in areas ranging from south-west to the north-east at a distance of 5-14km from its position.
On 13 February, from a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), between 8:15hrs and 14:05hrs, the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions and 14 bursts of small-arms fire in areas ranging from the north-west to the north-east at distances of 4-8km. On 14 February, between 7:45 and 14:00hrs the SMM heard no ceasefire violations from this location. Between 17:00hrs on 13 February and 8:00hrs on 14 February, from Donetsk city centre the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions at distances 7-15km south-south-west and south-west of its position.
The SMM, whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), recorded approximately 80 undetermined explosions and bursts of small-arms fire in an area 6km west of its position during the night of 13-14 February.
The SMM recorded a number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region, including undetermined explosions whilst positioned in “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk) on 13 and 14 February and undetermined explosions whilst in the government-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) on 13 February. Ceasefire violations in government-controlled Dmytrivka (43km north of Luhansk) were attributed to training exercises.
Following up on reports of shelling, the SMM went to a residential area on the eastern side of Marinka which had reportedly been shelled on the evening of 13 February. On Shevchenko Street the SMM saw that the north-east facing wall of a house had been damaged by two separate impacts. The SMM found fresh shrapnel consistent with an automatic grenade launcher (AGL) round and remnants of an exploded rocket propelled grenade (RPG-7). The residents of the house, who said they were home at the time of the incident, reported they had heard a loud impact at approximately 18:00hrs on 13 February. They said no one had been injured.
In “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (15km west of Donetsk), the SMM observed that a projectile had struck the gate of a house and damaged its south-west facing walls and roof. The south-west facing façades of a garage and another small building displayed shrapnel marks. Following analysis of a crater (that measured 1.5m in diameter), the SMM assessed that the projectile had been fired from the south-south-west. From shrapnel in the vicinity of the crater, the SMM assessed that the crater was caused most probably by a 122mm artillery round. At a neighbouring house the SMM observed shattered windows that the owner said had been damaged by an explosion at around 1:00hrs on 13 February.
In the “DPR”-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM observed damage to houses on General Kondratenko street caused by shelling that happened during the evening of 13 February. All houses had sustained structural damage to walls and roofs. Electricity lines were destroyed. The SMM also observed one unexploded 120mm mortar shell in the yard of a house, which was assessed to have been fired from the north-west. A village council member told the SMM that a 63-year-old man had been wounded in the shelling and was admitted to Hospital number 2 in Horlivka. According to the head doctor at the hospital, the man had suffered a non-life-threatening wound to his hip.
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures. In violation of the respective Addendum withdrawal lines the SMM observed three tanks (T-64) at a compound in “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) on 14 February.
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 24 tanks stationary near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk); 24 tanks (T-64 and T-72) stationary near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km south-east of Luhansk); 40 stationary tanks (T-64 and T-72) near “DPR”-controlled Ternove (57km east of Donetsk); four military trucks towing artillery covered in canvas (assessed as a 120mm mortar) and a flatbed truck carrying one and towing another piece of artillery (assessed as 120mm mortars), heading north-west near government-controlled Tsukuryne (38km north-west of Donetsk); two disassembled mortars (PM-38, 120mm) close to “DPR”-controlled Stepanivka (75km south-east of Donetsk).
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 monitors 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 “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and observed: six self-propelled howitzers (2S1, Gvozdika, 122mm); nine multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21, Grad, 122mm); 13 towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm); nine Addendum-regulated mortars (P-38, 120mm); two MLRS (BM-21, Grad, 122mm) continued to be missing from one area; while 11 Addendum-regulated mortars (PM-38, 120mm) were also observed to be missing, two for the first time; 11 towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) continued to be missing from another area.
The SMM observed the presence of other hardware: two anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23, 23mm), in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk), one set up in a firing position, the other mounted on a truck on 13 February and one mounted on a truck in the same general area on 14 February; two military-type trucks in “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (60km north-west of Luhansk), one of which had the words “Mortar team” written in Russian on the side carrying about 20 armed men without insignia; at a “DPR” checkpoint near Staromykhailivka, the SMM observed a stationary light-armoured towing vehicle (MTLB), an armoured personnel carrier (BMP-2) and a Kraz truck mounted with BMP-2 turret and heavy machine-gun; five armoured personnel carriers (BTR-70) near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) heading towards Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).
Approximately 200 metres from a “DPR” checkpoint positioned to the west of Kominternove (23km east-north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed fallen trees on the road, as well as an unexploded rocket propelled grenade lying close by, just off the road. When the SMM reached the checkpoint, “DPR” members told the monitors that if they stopped on the road again they would shoot at the SMM*.
The SMM observed the security situation affecting civilians in areas close to the contact line. In Oleksandrivka eight residents (men and women, aged between 40 and 70 years old) told the SMM that they were angry at what they said was prolonged evening and night-time shelling that has been taking place regularly over recent weeks. Residents in government-controlled Zaitseve told the SMM that shelling in the village lasted from 18:00hrs to midnight every night, and resumed at around 4:00hrs. The monitors observed tank tracks on the road between Zaitseve and government-controlled Kodema (57km north-east of Donetsk). In Zaitseve on 12 February the SMM observed a crowd of about 200 mostly elderly men and women gathered to receive humanitarian aid provided by two non-governmental organizations. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer from the JCCC said that a localized ceasefire had been arranged to allow aid to be delivered.
The SMM observed approximately 200 internally displaced persons from Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) gathered in Mariupol. The participants, most of whom were elderly women, carried banners with messages requesting demining of the village, compensation for, and the rebuilding of, their damaged properties.
The SMM observed large numbers of civilians at crossing points near the contact line. At 8:50hrs on 13 February the SMM observed 269 civilian vehicles, five buses, and 15 pedestrians waiting to cross into government-controlled areas at the H15 Marinka checkpoint between “DPR”- and government-controlled areas. No vehicles were observed waiting to enter the “DPR”-controlled areas at that time. At 8:25hrs on 14 February the SMM observed 506 cars queued to enter government-controlled areas at the “DPR” checkpoint in Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and 50 cars queued in the other direction. At the government-controlled Novotroitske checkpoint (36km south-west of Donetsk), at 8:50hrs, the SMM observed 389 cars waiting to cross into “DPR”-controlled areas and 86 cars queued in the other direction.
At two border crossing points in Donetsk region - “DPR” controlled Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk) and Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) - “DPR” members told the SMM that vehicles with “DPR” number plates were not permitted to enter the Russian Federation.
On 13 February, in Lviv, the SMM monitored a march marking the 122nd anniversary of the formation of the youth organization Falcon (Сокіл). Some 200 people took part (men and women, most in their twenties). The national leader of the Svoboda political party addressed those gathered and expressed support for the on-going blockade of trucks with Russian Federation plates in Zakarpattia region, and called on people to join the action (see SMM Daily Report 13 February 2016). The march passed off peacefully, watched by six police officers.
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 13 February two “LPR” members stopped the Mission monitors in an area near Veselohorivka and denied it further passage;
- On 13 February an armed “DPR” member in Kominternove told the SMM that they could not travel towards Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol);
- On 13 February a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier prevented the SMM from launching an unmanned aerial vehicle near government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk).
- On 14 February an armed “DPR” member in Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) prevented the SMM from entering a compound for a period of 50 minutes.
- On 13 February armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM near Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk) and asked for its patrol plan and monitors’ names. Following phone calls between “LPR” members, another armed “LPR” member arrived at the checkpoint and escorted the SMM into Pionerske, where they could talk to residents only in his presence;
- On 14 February men wearing the insignia of the Azov regiment of the National Guard (under the Ministry of Internal Affairs) stopped the SMM at a police checkpoint in Berdiansk (Zaporizhzhia region, 67km south-west of Mariupol), inspected their luggage and allowed the SMM to proceed after five minutes.
- “DPR” members near Kominternove threatened to shoot the SMM if they were to stop again on the road approaching the checkpoint.
 All times referred to in this report are in Eastern European Time.