Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 17 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The monitors observed damage to homes caused by recent shelling. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM observed long lines of civilians and vehicles waiting at checkpoints close to the contact line, which it attributed to the closure of the Marinka checkpoint. In Odessa, the SMM observed activists at a checkpoint for trucks from the Russian Federation transiting through Ukraine.
The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Positioned in Donetsk city centre on the evening and night of 16-17 February, the SMM heard 147 outgoing rounds at locations 3-7km west and north-west; 59 undetermined explosions 3-7km north-west; and 77 undetermined explosions approximately 10km away in areas ranging from south-west to north-north-west.
From a position at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), between 07:33 and 14:00hrs on 17 February, the SMM heard 32 undetermined explosions 3-9km away in areas ranging from north-east to south-west. From a position approximately 6km west of the Donetsk airport in government-controlled Pervomaiske (17km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard an exchange of fire, including several incoming and outgoing artillery and mortar rounds and small-arms and light-weapons fire from the general area of government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk).
From a location in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard a number of undetermined mortar explosions in areas to the north-west on the evening of 16 February. Positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard a number of undetermined explosions in areas to the south and south-west during the night of 16 February.
Further south, whilst at government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions and 15 rounds of heavy-machine-gun fire in an area approximately 5km to the north-north-east.
The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region, all of which were assessed to have been training related. Near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) and close to “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (28km south-west of Luhansk) and Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard small-arms fire and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all of which were assessed to have been part of training exercises.
The SMM observed damage to houses caused by recent shelling. In the “DPR”-controlled part of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM saw damage to two houses that residents said had resulted from shelling on 16 February. In the yards of residential buildings the SMM analysed six craters, which indicated that the shells – assessed to have been from 82mm mortars - were fired from the south-west. Residents in the government-controlled part of Zaitseve told the SMM that the area had been shelled on 15 February. The SMM observed seven craters in the gardens of houses, each 2-4m in diameter. The craters were consistent with mortar and artillery shells. One crater was close to a south-east facing wall that had visible trajectory traces which the SMM assessed had been caused by a projectile fired from the south-east. Within 150m of the houses, the SMM observed an armoured vehicle (BRDM), equipped with a 14.5mm machine-gun, parked in a garden. In Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed damage to houses that residents said had been caused by recent shelling. Two other residents showed the SMM a crater next to their house that they said had been caused by shelling on 15 February.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces battalion commander in government-controlled Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk) told the SMM that three soldiers had been killed and one injured in a shooting incident in an area between Novotroitske and Mykolaivka (40km south of Donetsk). According to the deputy chief doctor at the nearby Volnovakha central district hospital, a soldier had been admitted on 15 February and had undergone surgery before being relocated to a military hospital.
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 18 tanks in firing positions near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) and seven Addendum-regulated tanks (T64 and T72) close to “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (28km 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 locations and observed: 18 towed guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm); 12 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM21 Grad, 122mm); six towed howitzers (D-30,122mm); 37 Addendum-regulated mortars (2B-11 Sani, 120mm); four surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10), and a fifth observed for the first time; 26 self-propelled howitzers (14 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm and 12 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm); 21 Addendum-regulated tanks (T-64); three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) continued to be absent as they have been since January 2016.
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed: six towed anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and two towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm).
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites the SMM observed six stationary howitzers (D-30, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM observed the presence of other hardware: an armoured vehicle (BRDM) with a 30mm cannon heading east near government-controlled Netailove and an armoured vehicle (BTR-70) near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk).
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure including water pipes in the “LPR’-controlled part of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and electricity pylons in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk).
The SMM observed relatively long lines of civilians and vehicles waiting at checkpoints close to the contact line. During the afternoon the SMM observed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Marinka had been closed to civilians. On highway H20 south of Donetsk city through “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-south-west of Donetsk) at 08:05hrs the SMM observed 494 civilian vehicles, one bus, and 20 pedestrians lined up to travel towards government-controlled areas. Later, at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at government-controlled Novotroitske, the SMM observed 360 civilian vehicles, ten busses, and more than 200 pedestrians lined up to travel further in the direction of government-controlled areas, and 41 vehicles, two busses, and 20 pedestrians waiting to travel in the other direction.
On 16 February the SMM spoke with five members of the Civilian Corps Azov at a checkpoint 10km west of Odessa city who said they were part of the blockade on trucks from the Russian Federation transiting through Ukraine. According to one member, they had stopped three trucks and had made them turn back the day before. On 17 February, at the same checkpoint, they told the SMM that they would not stop any trucks, only observe the situation. The SMM also spoke separately with commanders of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine at the Kuchurhan (61km north-west of Odessa) and Maiaky (35km west of Odessa) border crossing points who said that following instructions from the central level, they will continue letting all Russian Federation-registered trucks to enter Ukraine until 25 February.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, 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:
- An armed “LPR” member denied the SMM access to a shooting range near “LPR”-controlled Buhaivka (38km south-west of Luhansk). The SMM observed marks from tracked vehicles at the compound.
- Armed “LPR” members denied the SMM access to a compound in Perevalsk (40km south-west of Luhansk).
- Ukrainian Armed Forces members denied the SMM access to a compound in the area of Novohrodivka (40km north-west of Donetsk).
- Armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM in Krasnyi Luch (55km south-west of Luhansk), requested to see their documents and suggested that the SMM inform the “LPR” before arriving in the area. Two members from the local “administration” arrived and the “LPR” members suggested they should escort the SMM in future. After 20 minutes’ delay the SMM was allowed to proceed, and was followed by the two individuals.
- Armed “DPR” members delayed the SMM for 25 minutes at a checkpoint near Sakhanka (24km east of Mariupol).
 All times in this report refer to Eastern European Time.