Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 21 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It observed shelling damage to houses. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority in areas not under government control.* The SMM observed generally peaceful but occasionally violent demonstrations commemorating the events on Maidan two years ago.
The SMM observed a high number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region particularly in the areas of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk, Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) and government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk). Late on 19 February, the SMM heard ten outgoing explosions and 50 bursts of heavy-machine-gun (HMG) fire 3-5km north of its position in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk). On 20 February, the SMM, positioned at the “DPR”‑controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) heard hundreds of bursts and shots of HMG and small-arms fire primarily 3-5km north of its position. In government-controlled Marinka (23km west‑south‑west of Donetsk), the SMM heard two incoming explosions, seven bursts and four single shots of small-arms fire from a distance of less than half a kilometre. In the evening, the SMM heard 20 mortar and automatic grenade launcher explosions and bursts of HMG fire 13km north of its forward patrol base in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km NE of Donetsk). The overall number of incidents decreased on 21 February. The SMM’s camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded two single shots of small arms from north-west to south-east.
The SMM observed a low number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region, with none registered on 21 February. Twenty-four explosions were heard 10km north-west of government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk). Two explosions heard in the vicinity of government‑controlled Trokhizbenka (33km west of Luhansk) and three explosions heard north of Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk).
The SMM followed-up on reports of shelling in “DPR“-controlled Petrovskyi district (20km south-west of Donetsk city centre), where it observed damage to a house consistent with shrapnel. According to the homeowner, the damage occurred at 22:30hrs on 18 February. The SMM was able to examine two craters in the vicinity of the damaged house and assessed both as the result of 120mm mortar round impacts. The direction of fire could not be determined for the first, while the second impacted from a north-north-westerly direction.
In Marinka the SMM observed a house whose second floor had been burned out. According to the owner, this was the result of three or four grenades striking the house around 18:30hrs on 18 February.
In Kominternove the SMM assessed the damage of what was assessed as an 82mm mortar round explosion fired from west-north-west. Fresh remnants of an 82mm mortar round were found on the spot. The SMM analysed several craters less than 2km west of Kominternove, in the vicinity of a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint. These craters were assessed as results of 82mm mortar round impacts from a north-easterly direction.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site and observed that two tanks (T‑64) and three anti-tank guns (D-44, 85mm) declared in the inventory list were missing. The missing items have been continuously noted as missing since 14 January 2016.
In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw one tank (T-64) in “DPR”‑controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol) and two 82mm mortars in government-controlled Talakivka (17km north-east of Mariupol).
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: one tank (T-64) being transported by flatbed truck near “LPR”‑controlled Heorhiivka (16km south of Luhansk), 12 tanks in the area of “LPR”‑controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk), two tanks (T-64) in the area of government-controlled Andriivka (41km north of Mariupol).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The Mission 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 Mission monitors revisited such locations and observed: six towed anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), six towed howitzers guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm), three towed mortars (PM 38, 120mm) two Addendum-proscribed mortars (2S10 Vasilyok, 82mm), and 18 towed howitzer (D20, 152mm).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed six self-propelled howitzers (122mm 2S1 Gvozdika).
In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed what was assessed to be a short-range surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela‑10) being controlled by a group of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers in the area of government‑controlled Svitlychne (55km north-west of Luhansk).
The SMM also observed the presence of other hardware. On 20 February, the SMM observed a building being used by Ukrainian Armed Forces for housing, in government-controlled Nevelske (18km north-west of Donetsk) and, in the vicinity, two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-2) and an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (MT-LB). Another IFV (BMP-2) with a 30mm gun was seen not far from the village. At the outskirts of “DPR“‑controlled Dokuchaievsk (32km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM observed ten “DPR” members in military-type formation on the street with weapons and full combat equipment. One “DPR” member was observed in full sniper outfit and with sniper rifle. In the area of “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km east-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed two military-type trucks carrying anti-aircraft auto-cannons (ZU-23) on 21 February.
The SMM noted the presence of unexploded ordnance and mines in civilian areas. On road T1302 approximately 10km west of government-controlled Lysychansk (73km north‑west of Luhansk), the SMM observed the tail end of a 300mm rocket projectile protruding from the ground 15m from the roadway. The projectile was assessed as 9K58 Smerch that had not been fired recently. Just north of “DPR”‑controlled, Novohryhorivka (60km north‑east of Donetsk), the SMM observed an unexploded artillery shell assessed as 122mm, on the side of the road.
At the eastern entrance of the government checkpoint on road H15, south-west of Marinka, the SMM continued to observe six antitank mines aligned across the road from one side to the other side, blocking passage. The mines were removed by Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers in order to let SMM pass and were returned to their original position afterwards. In the vicinity of government‑controlled Pervomaiske (17km north-west of Donetsk) and Dokuchaievsk, the SMM observed improvised mine markers made of plastic bottles.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure, namely to repair works to water and power infrastructure in “LPR”-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and Krasnyi Lyman (34km north‑west of Luhansk).
The SMM monitored the security and humanitarian situation near the contact line. In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 40-50 people waiting to leave government-controlled areas and 500-600 waiting to move in the other direction. The SMM observed customs officials carefully checking the contents of all luggage being transported to government-controlled areas; according to one traveller the wait to enter government-controlled areas was three hours.
On 20 February, the SMM confirmed that the government checkpoints in Zaitseve (50km north‑east of Donetsk) and Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) have been re‑opened. At the government checkpoints in Pyshchevyk (23km north-east of Mariupol) and Novotroitske (67km north of Mariupol), the checkpoint commanders informed the SMM that since the re‑opening of the checkpoint in Zaitseve, the volume of traffic at the checkpoints in Pyshchevyk and Novotroitske had decreased significantly relative to when the checkpoint in Zaitseve was closed. At the Pyshchevyk checkpoint, the SMM observed approximately ten vehicles respectively waiting to travel in each direction. At the Novotroitske checkpoint, the SMM observed 65 civilian vehicles and 100 pedestrians waiting to leave government-controlled areas.
In Kyiv, the SMM monitored demonstrations commemorating the second anniversary of the Maidan events. Early on 20 February, the monitors observed 600 people (primarily men) marching through the city centre while around 200 security personnel (mainly police) stood watch. The SMM observed several businesses were vandalised by the demonstrators, who threw rocks and shattered windows. By midday, the SMM observed the crowd grow to 2,000 individuals in the area of the Maidan and the situation calmed.
On 21 February, the SMM observed some 1,500 people gathered in Sofiiska Square to show support for a police officer who allegedly shot a 17-year-old following a car chase through Kyiv. The SMM also observed some 200 people gathered to commemorate the “Defending the bridgehead of Debaltseve.” On Maidan, some 1,500 people gathered to demonstrate for a “new Maidan” and against what they referred to as corruption in politics. Several bonfires were observed in the square.
Peaceful commemorations of the Maidan events were held in Lviv on 19 and 20 February. On 19 February, 1,500 students marched silently through the city while on 20 February some 150 people, including representatives of the local authorities, gathered to commemorate those who lost their lives during the Maidan events. In the evening, some 200 people gathered for a march organized by the Svoboda party. In Kharkiv, the SMM observed 600 people, and an equally strong police presence, gathered at a peaceful Euro-Maidan rally. In Odessa, the SMM monitored the laying of the corner stone of the monument to the” Heavenly Hundred” in front of the regional administration building. Over 200 people were gathered peacefully although some tensions arose temporarily when two of the speakers addressed the crowd in Russian and Svoboda and Right Sector activists demanded they speak Ukrainian. In Kherson, the “Right Sector” and Svoboda party organized a silent torchlight vigil of approximately 100 people. The event remained peaceful and police presence was not noted.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnepropetrovsk, and Chernivtsi.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfillment 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:
- The SMM saw that the entrance to Vodiane (19km north‑east of Mariupol) remained blocked by an improvised roadblock.
- Armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from entering the western part of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol).
- Armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from entering “DPR”-controlled Prymorske (39km north-east of Mariupol).
- Armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from entering “DPR”-controlled Nova Marivka (49km north-east of Mariupol), saying the SMM needed a “DPR” escort to do so.
- On 20 February, two armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM outside “LPR”‑controlled Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk) and allowed the SMM to enter only with an armed “LPR” escort.
- On 21 February, an armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM in “LPR”-controlled Parkhomenko (29km east of Luhansk) and allowed it to continue only after revealing its patrol plan to an armed “LPR” member.
- On 20 February SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle was jammed for 35 minutes while flying over Marinka. Both Global Positioning Systems were affected and the UAV was recalled to base.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.