Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 4 March 2016
The SMM observed a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous day and continued to observe an overall stable situation in Luhansk region. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons; some weapons were observed in violation of the withdrawal lines. The Mission facilitated and monitored demining and repair work on both sides of the contact line. In Ivano-Frankivsk, the SMM spoke to representatives of a veterans association. The Mission reached border areas not controlled by the Government.*
The SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions 5-10km to the north-north-west during the late night hours of 3 March. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk), during the day the SMM registered seven undetermined explosions, 94 bursts of small-arms fire and 34 single small-arms shots at locations 2-14km south-west, north, north-east and north-west of its position.
Whilst in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), in the late hours of 3 March, the SMM heard one volley of multiple launch rocket system, 12 impacts of artillery rounds, 24 impacts of mortar rounds (four assessed as caused by 120mm and 20 assessed as caused by 82mm mortar, 16 impacts of automatic grenade launcher rounds, 33 rounds from a 30mm canon (BMP-1) and 150 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, at locations approximately 2-5km south-east, south-west and north-east of its position. In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), in the late hours of 3 March, the SMM heard 50 explosions 6km west of its position, assessed as impacts caused by 82mm mortar rounds.
In Luhansk region, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions: seven at a location 10km to the south of its position in government-controlled areas of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and five some 25km south-west of its position in “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk). Other ceasefire violations were assessed as live-fire exercises at training grounds outside the security zone - near “LPR”-controlled Miusynsk (62km south-west of Luhansk) and Shymshynivka (28km south-west of Luhansk).
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites and noted that one tank’s serial number did not match the site inventory and that six tanks (T-64) and three mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) were missing.
Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed seven tanks (T-72) in an area west of government-controlled Karlivka (25km north-west of Donetsk), two tanks (T-72) on flatbed trailers near government-controlled Selydove (41km north-west of Donetsk) and 18 tanks (T-64) stationary at a training area near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as 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 howitzers (D20, 152mm) and five mortars (three PM-38, 120mm; two 2B9, 82mm); six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) were missing.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. The SMM continued to monitor the repair of gas pipelines between government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk). Near Yasynuvata (“DPR”-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM monitored repairs to a water filtration station. Workers at the site told the SMM that the station supplies areas to the south-east - from Yasynuvata to Mariupol. In government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) the SMM monitored repair works on water pipelines across the contact line. At a pumping station also in the area, six workers of the electrical company told the SMM that they were to repair an electricity pylon located outside the facility’s perimeter, which was allegedly damaged recently by shelling and as a result some villages in the area, such as Vasylivka (government-controlled, 18km north-east of Donetsk), had no power. While at the site, the SMM heard an explosion. Near “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk) the SMM monitored repair works on high-voltage power lines along the contact line.
The SMM observed damage to civilian infrastructure. In Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk) the acting “head” of the “village council” told the SMM that half of the “DPR”-controlled area of the village, including school No. 15 had been without electricity since 28 February due to shelling. The SMM contacted the electricity company that could conduct the repairs and learned it was unable to proceed due to lack of security guarantees. At the school the SMM observed damage to the north-facing façade of the second floor, which it assessed as caused by an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV, BMP-1) cannon. The SMM also saw two partially-covered IFVs right next to the school as well as about ten armed men. In Horlivka, the head doctor of the paediatric department of the central hospital No. 2 told the SMM that the hospital did not have sufficient backup power-generating capacity. The SMM observed an old crater in the centre of the hospital compound and the impacts of shrapnel on surrounding walls. In Sokilnyky the SMM observed significant damage to a natural gas pipeline.
The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the security zone. At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint in the vicinity of Yasynuvata, the SMM again observed two anti-tank mines (see SMM Daily Report 4 March 2016). The SMM continued to observe eight anti-tank mines at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on the H15 road east of Marinka (see SMM Daily Report 24 February 2016). In government-controlled Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM again saw three pieces of UXO from a multiple-launch rocket system (BM-21 Uragan, 220mm) (see SMM Daily Report 7 February 2016). In government-controlled Teple (31km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM followed-up on reports of a fatal incident on 27 February. The head of the local council and the owner of the land told the SMM that one man had been killed and another had been severely injured when they triggered a booby-trap while gathering firewood in a forested area, 300 to 500m south of the Teple checkpoint located on the main road. They added that the incident had taken place close to a path used daily by employees of a nearby factory.
The SMM noted obstacles for civilians in crossing checkpoints along the contact line. At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint on H15 near Marinka, the SMM observed 360 vehicles heading west towards government-controlled areas, and 170 vehicles heading east. Later in the day, at the same checkpoint, the SMM observed 234 vehicles and two buses heading east and 109 vehicles heading west. In “LPR”-controlled Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk), residents told the SMM that they had been denied passage through checkpoints towards “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk). The SMM spoke with an armed “LPR” member at a nearby checkpoint who confirmed that, citing an order from his superiors.
On 3 March the SMM visited the non-government-controlled border crossing point in Chervonopartyzansk (“LPR”-controlled, 67km south-east of Luhansk) and observed an overall calm situation. About ten vehicles (civilian cars and one civilian truck) with Ukrainian registration plates were waiting to cross into the Russian Federation.
The SMM met a representative of the Ivano-Frankivsk ATO Soldiers Association. He stated that no land plots had been allocated to veterans in Ivano-Frankivsk city, while in Tysmenytsia (10km east of Ivano-Frankivsk), of the 219 plots previously identified for allocation 25 had been allocated. In relation to benefits for families of volunteer battalion members he said that the Ivano-Frankivsk regional council had decided to provide them with benefits in October 2015. However, that decision had been contested by some regional council members, but the council was going to consider a new similar proposal on 18 March.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, 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.
- Armed men at an “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge told the SMM they had received instructions not to allow the SMM to cross the bridge. The SMM contacted the JCCC and after a 15-minute delay was able to proceed.
* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.