Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 23 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed a lower number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk than the previous day, and four training-related violations in Luhansk. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The Mission facilitated and monitored repair works on both sides of the contact line. The SMM encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions, the majority south of Donetsk city.* The SMM noted long queues along the line of contact. It observed public gatherings in Kyiv and Chernivtsi.
The SMM observed significant but lower levels of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to the previous day. While positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard 82 undetermined explosions in a radius of 3-10km to the north, west and south of its position, while also recording numerous bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine gun-fire 3-5km to the west and the north. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions (at least one caused by artillery fire), 47 impacts of mortar rounds (44 82mm and three 120mm), and several single shots and bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire from locations in a radius of 3-7km west and south.
In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 56 undetermined explosions and at least 12 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire approximately 10-12km south-west. In “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions occurring at an undetermined distance west-south-west of its position.
In Luhansk region, the SMM heard and saw several ceasefire violations that were assessed as live-fire exercises near government-controlled Mykolaivka (76km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk).
The SMM conducted crater analysis in DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-east of Donetsk). According to a resident, the craters were the result of impacts during the late evening of 21 February. The SMM analysed a crater approximately 60m from a school building which was assessed as having been caused by an undetermined weapon fired from a northern or north-western direction. No shrapnel was visible in the area. The SMM then saw a second impact site next to an apartment block. The monitors were unable to determine the weapon type but assessed the direction of the impact by following the impact canal of the shell, which pointed north. The SMM visited an apartment on the second floor which had traces of shrapnel on the walls, ceiling and floor of one of the rooms. The owner said a woman who had been in the adjacent room had been taken to a hospital in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) with bruises. The hospital’s chief doctor had confirmed the patient’s arrival the previous day. The SMM assessed that a shell of undetermined calibre had entered the apartment from a northern direction. The SMM observed two tail fins of a round of undetermined calibre in the attic.
The SMM continued to observe the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and explosive remnants of war. On 23 February the SMM observed remnants of a multiple rocket launch system (MLRS) projectile (BM-30 Smerch, 300mm) in a cemetery in “LPR”-controlled Makedonivka (37km south of Luhansk). The entry trajectory of the rocket suggested that it had been fired from the north-east. In “LPR”-controlled Shovkova Protoka (30km south of Luhansk), the SMM observed another 300mm rocket projectile (Smerch) in a field. The entry trajectory of the rocket suggested that it had originated from the south-west. Both UXOs seemed to have been present in the area for some time. At the western entrance to Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM observed an UXO embedded in the road approximately 500m from the first “DPR” checkpoint. The SMM assessed the UXO to be a 120mm mortar round and to likely have been fired from an eastern direction.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites and found that 34 tanks (32 T-72), four mortars (2B9, 82MM) and one anti-tank gun (D-44, 85MM) were missing. The SMM also observed new weapons.
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed 30-35 Addendum-regulated tanks (both T-64 and T-72) in a training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south of Luhansk). The Mission monitors also observed one tank (T-72) 12.4km south-east of Donetsk city centre, parked on the west-side of highway H20 facing south.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The Mission 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 government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), five of which were attached to light armoured vehicles, 11 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS, 9K51/BM-21 Grad, 220mm), 14 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B,152mm), and 18 pieces of towed artillery (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm). The SMM noted that one MLRS (9K51/BM-21 Grad 220mm) and seven towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) were missing.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the monitors again observed four towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) in Luhansk city on 23 February (see SMM Daily Report from 22 February).
Beyond respective withdrawal lines and outside of storage sites, the SMM observed the following heavy weapons: one anti-aircraft system (9K33, Osa, 210mm) in the area of government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk) and one surface-to-air missile system (SA-8, 210mm) near government-controlled Ukrainka (58km north-west of Donetsk).
The SMM observed other hardware: in the area of government-controlled Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol) the monitors observed six armoured vehicles (BRDM).
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. It facilitated ongoing repair work to high-voltage pylons in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (32km north-west of Luhansk) and to water infrastructure near Horlivka.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line. In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the Mission monitors observed a tractor towing a wagon full of garbage. Workers standing by the tractor told the monitors that garbage collection services were launched by the civil-military administration on 22 February. In the past the SMM had noted that local residents were burning their garbage. In Maiorsk, a group of six to 12 residents, mostly elderly women, told the SMM that they feared electricity cuts due to what they said was the inability of many residents to pay their electricity bills. They claimed that the energy company had placed posters in the village in mid-January warning of cuts if bills were not paid. Residents in Maiorsk also complained of long queues to travel across the line of contact, with one female resident noting that there were also long lines to board buses to Artemivsk (government-controlled, 67km north-east of Donetsk). Interlocutors told the SMM that alternatively people walk to Dzerzhynsk (government-controlled, 43km north of Donetsk) along a dangerous road parallel to the line of contact to collect their pensions.
At government-controlled checkpoints along the line of contact in the vicinity of recently re-opened checkpoints in Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) (see SMM Daily Report from 22 February), as well as in Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk), Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk) and near Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed between 80 and 325 vehicles and 100 to 200 pedestrians travelling toward government-controlled areas at different times during the day, and between 50 and 70 vehicles and 40 to 100 pedestrians leaving government-controlled areas. In Stanytsia Luhanska, the Mission monitors observed up to 300 people waiting to leave government-controlled areas and approximately 300 people waiting to travel toward government-controlled areas at different times during the day. The SMM also spoke with a younger woman who said that she was not allowed to cross the bridge as her luggage was full of cheese. The government checkpoint commander told the monitors that according to regulations the woman was not allowed to pass because she had an excessive amount of cheese which was too much for one family.
The SMM observed two public gatherings. In Chernivtsi, the Mission monitored a public gathering organized by the recently-established “Movement for Purification of Ukraine”. Approximately 1,000 people (60% men, mainly middle-aged) were gathered in a hall as the head of the Odessa Regional State Administration called for more reforms. No police were observed in the area. In Kyiv, approximately 200 people (different ages, 80% men) attended a public gathering on the Maidan during the late afternoon of 22 February. On 23 February, the SMM observed two men in military-style uniforms without insignia near a large military-style tent on the Maidan which had previously been determined by the monitors as belonging to the “Revolution of Right Forces”. No police were observed in the area on 22 or 23 February. In addition, in Chernivtsi, the SMM spoke with two senior representatives of Right Sector, who expressed their dissatisfaction with the current Government and warned of the possibility of large protests.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, and Dnepropetrovsk.
*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.
- In “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), one unarmed “DPR” member who appeared to be intoxicated approached the SMM and started behaving in an intimidating fashion. The SMM left the area;
- Armed “LPR” members insisted that the SMM leave a location close to an “LPR”-checkpoint in the vicinity of Stanytsia Luhanska.
- At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint, 10km south-west of Donetsk, a “traffic police officer” demanded that the SMM provide OSCE identification and wrote down the names of the monitors;
- At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint near Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), “police officers” demanded that the SMM open the vehicles’ trunks for inspection;
- Armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM at a checkpoint on the southern outskirts of Donetsk city and demanded that the SMM provide the names of all the monitors;
- Further south of Donetsk, the SMM was again stopped at a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint and monitors’ passports were requested.