Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 24 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public
The SMM observed a higher number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk than the previous day, and mostly training-related ones in Luhansk region. 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, all in Donetsk region.* The SMM noted long queues at crossing points on the contact line. It monitored public gatherings in Kyiv and Odessa.
The SMM observed a higher number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to the previous day. In the evening hours of 23 February the monitors recorded 34 undetermined explosions to the north-west and south west of its position whilst in Donetsk city centre. While positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), on 24 February the SMM heard 91 undetermined explosions 3-8km to the north-west and south-west of its position, while also recording over 190 bursts of small-arms and machine gun-fire 3-5km to the south and the north-west. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the Mission monitors heard 21 undetermined explosions 2km to the south-south-west. In the vicinity of a checkpoint west-south-west of the town, along the contact line, the SMM heard the sounds of sniper fire and later saw a man in a military-type uniform in an upright position aiming a long rifle north-west. In “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), in less than two hours the monitors recorded 50 undetermined explosions and ten bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 3-10km to the north-north-west and to the south-west of its position.
During the evening hours of 23 February whilst in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard within 30 minutes approximately 50 explosions and impacts assessed as caused by the firing of 120mm mortar, six impacts assessed as caused by the firing of 82mm mortar rounds, as well as small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 3-8km to the north-west of its position. On 24 February, the SMM recorded 12 undetermined explosions 3-8km to the south-west and the north-east within 30 minutes.
In Luhansk region, the majority of ceasefire violations the Mission monitors observed were assessed as live-fire exercises, mostly near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk). In an “LPR”-controlled area of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as caused by artillery 8-10km to the north.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites and found that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to those sites were present.
In violation of respective withdrawal lines, aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of one tank near government-controlled Novhorodske (36km north of Donetsk) on 20 February, as well as nine tanks near “DPR”-controlled Mospyne (25km south-east of Donetsk) on 18 February. On 23 February the Mission's long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted one probable tank in the area of Krymske (government-controlled, 40km north-west of Luhansk).
Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, in the vicinity of government-controlled Kalinine (41km north of Mariupol), the SMM saw a military convoy consisting of ten military trailers heading north with seven tanks (T-64) – and three anti-aircraft artillery pieces. On 23 February, the Mission's UAV spotted a concentration of 45 tanks near “DPR”-controlled Torez (57km east of Donetsk).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. It has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification.
The monitors revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and observed that seven additional towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) recently observed there were absent.
The SMM revisited locations known to it 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 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) and four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the Mission monitors revisited such locations and observed 18 towed guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152 mm).
In violation of respective withdrawal lines, on 23 February the SMM UAV spotted one towed anti-tank gun (MT12 Rapira, 100mm) in government-controlled area of Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near “DPR”-controlled Torez (57km east of Donetsk).
Beyond respective withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed four towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).
The Mission observed the presence of other hardware. On 20 February, aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of nine armoured personnel carriers (APC) near government-controlled Novhorodske (36km north of Donetsk) as well as 25 APCs, 171 military-type trucks and seven trailer trucks in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city. In Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) the monitors saw two military vehicles (ZIL-131) with anti-aircraft system (ZU-23) and one armoured vehicle (MT-LB) without weapons beside a private house in the village, as well as, located beside an abandoned gas station, four APCs (two BMP-2, two BTR-80) and two armoured vehicles (MT-LB), both equipped with anti-aircraft systems (ZU-23). In the vicinity of government-controlled Hirske (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM saw an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a military truck, and near government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) five armoured vehicles (BMP or BTR).
The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). At the first Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on the H15 road east of government-controlled Marinka, the monitors continued to observe eight anti-tank mines, separated with concrete blocks and marked with hazard signs. North-west of government-controlled Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol), the Mission observed a booby trap on the side of the road.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. The Mission monitored repair works to water pipelines near “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on both sides of the contact line, but had to leave the area upon hearing small arms fire. The monitors continued to facilitate ongoing repair work to high-voltage pylons in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (32km north-west of Luhansk) and in the vicinity of Obozne (“LPR”-controlled, 18km north of Luhansk). In government-controlled areas of Zolote the SMM monitored the repair of leaks in water pipes. While in another government-controlled area of Zolote, the SMM observed an improvised roadblock and trenches being dug on a hill and a shelter/bunker under construction, with approximately 1.5km of new trenches going westward.
The Mission continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line. In Marinka, a resident (woman, about 50 years old) told the monitors that the roof of her house had been damaged by shelling on 16 February, but she had received construction material and assistance from an international humanitarian organization. A male construction worker told the SMM that he had started working on the roof on 24 February, but shortly after that he had heard several shots above his head and had had to stop work. The woman confirmed this. Whilst in Marinka, the monitors saw a white vehicle with a Right Sector symbol on its hood.
At checkpoints along the contact line in the vicinity of the crossing route near Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk, see SMM Daily Report 22 February2016), the SMM observed approximately 230 civilian vehicles and six buses heading west, while 107 civilian vehicles were lined up heading east. At the “DPR” checkpoint in Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol), the monitors observed significantly fewer vehicles than during its most recent visit on 18 February (ten cars compared to 280). Staff at the checkpoint told the SMM that more equipment for processing vehicles had been installed.
The Mission continued to monitor public gatherings. In Odessa, on 23 February it monitored a commemoration of the Defender of the Fatherland day at the monument of the Unknown Sailor. Some 60 anti-Maidan activists participated (men and women, between 27 and 75 years old). Ten pro-Maidan activists were also present (mostly men, one woman, 17 to 25 years-old). The event was secured by eight patrol police officers and 20 National Guard officers, and ended peacefully. The SMM also noted two buses with police officers nearby. On 24 February, the Mission monitors observed a calm and unchanged situation at Maidan square in Kyiv (see SMM Daily Report 24 February 2016), with one military-style tent still present, and 15 to 20 middle-aged men and three men in military-type uniforms near it. The monitors did not see police officers in the vicinity.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, 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.
- An armed “DPR” member denied the SMM access to the western part of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km west of Mariupol).
- At the government checkpoint west of Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel told the SMM not to proceed into Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) due to potential hazard (mined area).
- The SMM was delayed for 20 minutes 2.3km north-west of Debaltseve by an armed “DPR” member. He demanded to see documents allowing the SMM’s presence and then made the SMM move to a “DPR” position south of that location. The SMM refused and contacted a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination. The SMM was not obstructed further.
- On 23 February the Global Position Systems of the SMM long-range UAV were jammed on multiple occasions while flying over the wider area of “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city.