Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 25 February 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed a reduced number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with previous days. In Luhansk, all ceasefire violations observed were assessed to be part of training. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. It facilitated and monitored repairs to essential infrastructure on both sides of the contact line in Luhansk region. The SMM encountered freedom of movement restrictions, all in areas not under government control*. The SMM observed a protest outside a TV station in Kyiv. The SMM facilitated dialogue between Church representatives in Ivano-Frankivsk region.
The SMM observed a reduced number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with previous days. Between 08:00 and 14:00hrs, from a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard two undetermined mortar (82mm) explosions. In “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (15km west of Donetsk) between 11:20 and 11:52hrs the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions in areas 2km north-west and 2km south-west of its location. In Petrovskyi district of Donetsk (16km south-west of Donetsk city centre) between 12:15 and 12:25hrs the SMM heard three undetermined explosions at unknown distances to the south-west.
On the evening of 24 February, the SMM, positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) heard five undetermined explosions and 20 bursts of small-arms fire 3-4km south-east. From a location in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 24 February, the SMM heard 13 undetermined explosions approximately 15km south-west of its position.
In Luhansk region, all ceasefire violations recorded by the SMM were assessed to have been from locations known to the SMM as training areas in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) and Mykolaivka (76km north-west of Luhansk).
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) observed 11 tanks in an area near government-controlled Zoria (40km north-west of Donetsk) on 24 February. Near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed six tanks (T-64 and T-72) taking part in non-live-fire training.
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 an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and observed that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.
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: 17 howitzers (six 2S1, Gvozdika, 122mm and 11 2S3, Akatsiya, 152mm); 12 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) (BM-21, Grad, 122mm); 18 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites the SMM observed two or three towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) taking part in non-live-fire training near “LPR”-controlled Myrne and four howitzers (D-30, 122mm) being towed near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM observed the presence of other hardware: a stationary armoured vehicle (MT-LB) and an adapted armoured truck mounted with a cannon (unknown calibre) in “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka.
On the western edges of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) the SMM spoke to three men wearing different military uniforms (two of whom were armed) who identified themselves as Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers. They said the situation was generally quiet and that demining was being carried out by Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to them, about half the village is now under the control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The SMM camera, positioned in Shyrokyne recorded one explosion at 13:03hrs that the SMM assessed to have been a controlled detonation. In Mariupol, a representative of the Donetsk Civil-Military Administration (CIMIC) told the SMM that demining had started in Shyrokyne.
The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. In “LPR”-controlled Marivka (60km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed repair work carried out by the Luhansk water company. Near “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM (positioned on both sides of the contact line) observed teams repair water pipes and electricity lines. In Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk) a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that repairs to the gas pipeline in areas close to the contact line have been on hold since 13 February as “DPR” members have not provided security guarantees. The SMM discussed the issue with Russian Federation officers from the JCCC on 20 February.
The SMM facilitated dialogue between representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) in Ternopil (95km north-east of Ivano-Frankivsk) following recent incidents between parishioners (see SMM Daily Report 21 January 2016). Participants discussed how to peacefully resolve disputes related to contested church premises in the region and agreed to continue to take steps to reduce tensions between followers.
In Kyiv, the SMM observed a protest outside the premises of the Inter television station. Approximately 60 persons (mostly young men), some of whom identified themselves as members of the non-governmental organization, Azov Civil Corps, were present. They wore different civilian and military-type uniforms, and most had their faces covered. Some wrote slogans on the building criticizing a recent TV report. They hung a flag of the Azov Civil Corps on the front entrance of the building. The crowd, watched by ten police officers, dispersed peacefully.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Lviv, Odessa, 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.
Denial of access:
- Armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access to Prymorske (39km north-east of Mariupol).
- Armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access to Staromykhailivka.
- Armed “DPR” members denied the SMM access to Shumy (42km north-east of Donetsk), despite the intervention of a Russian Federation officer from the JCCC.
- Armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM at a checkpoint near Horlivka and checked the contents of all bags on board one vehicle before allowing the SMM to proceed.
- Later on, armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM at the same checkpoint near Horlivka, asked to see inside the trunks of vehicles and asked if the SMM were carrying explosives or weapons before allowing the SMM to proceed.
- Armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM on the bridge near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), recorded the names of monitors, their ID numbers and took patrol plan details.
- An armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM at a checkpoint in Pionerske (19km east of Luhansk). Approximately 15 minutes later, an “LPR” member arrived and escorted the SMM to the centre of the village. Access was permitted only to that part of the village.
- The “head” of the “district administration” in “DPR”-controlled Telmanove (67km south-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that they could not enter any public institutions in the town during working hours and that meetings with staff from such institutions could only take place with his facilitation.
- The SMM observed, for the first time, a downed electricity pole that blocked the road between Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) and Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol).
 All times in this report refer to Eastern European Time.