Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 14 March 2016
In Donetsk region, the SMM continued to observe numerous ceasefire violations. It observed no ceasefire violations in Luhansk region. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. It was restricted in its freedom of movement, including at one heavy weapons holding area and at a border crossing point in an area not controlled by the Government.* The SMM continued to monitor the situation of civilians in the vicinity of the contact line.
The SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre during the night of 13 March, between 18:06 and 23:17hrs, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions 7-10km to the north-west. Positioned at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 07:55 and 10:27hrs the following day, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions, nine bursts and 15 single shots of small-arms fire, and one burst of heavy-machine-gun fire at locations 4-8km north-west, north-north-west, north-north-east, north-east and east-north-east. Positioned near government-controlled Mykolaivka (44km north-west of Donetsk) between 11:30 and 11:45hrs, the SMM heard what it assessed as at least eight 152mm artillery round impacts approximately 20km east-south-east. Positioned west of “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) between 8:00 and 12:45hrs, the SMM heard 33 undetermined explosions and two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 0.8-3km west and south-west. Positioned in nearby government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) between 11:26 and 13:10hrs, the SMM observed what it assessed as nine 82mm mortar impacts 3-4km east.
Positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) between 16:28 and 20:53hrs on 13 March, the SMM heard 59 undetermined explosions, at least 150 single shots of heavy-machine-gun and intermittent small-arms fire 2-5km south-south-east and south-west.
Approximately 800m north-west of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM between 12:14 and 12:20hrs heard two outgoing mortar rounds and two mortar impacts, plus three or four bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, more than 5km north-west.
In Luhansk region, the situation remained relatively calm with the SMM recording no ceasefire violations.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and observed that 14 mortars (six 2B11 Sani, 120mm, and eight 2B9 Vasilekk, 82mm) and three anti-tank guns (D-44, 85mm) were missing.
The SMM also revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and observed that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to those sites were present.
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 the following: 12 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS, BM-21 Grad, 122mm), six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), four towed howitzers (D-20, 152mm), and 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), 17 of which were hitched to trucks with the majority appearing to be loaded with ammunition. In total, ten previously recorded self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm), six anti-tank guns (D48, 85mm) and nine Addendum-regulated tanks (T-72) were missing. At one site, personnel refused to allow in particular one SMM monitor to inspect the weapons*.
In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed 18 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk).
The SMM noted military hardware close to civilian infrastructure, observing two (MT-LB) and two military-type trucks close to a hospital in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), and two camouflaged armoured personnel carriers (BTR) in gardens adjoining residential property in “DPR”-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol).
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. Positioned both in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), and in nearby “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM facilitated access for technicians to inspect a gas distribution station. The inspection was carried out successfully.
The SMM followed up on reports of shelling and conducted crater analysis. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces fortified defensive position near government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed four fresh craters, each one metre in diameter. Based on crater analysis conducted by the SMM on two of them, and examination of a spent projectile at the scene, the SMM assessed that rounds from a 73mm recoilless gun (SPG-9) had been fired from the direction of “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (49km north-west of Luhansk). The checkpoint commander told the SMM that the incident had taken place at 05:45hrs that morning.
At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk)*, the SMM observed approximately 70 civilian cars (ten with Russian Federation plates, eight with “LPR” plates, and the rest with Ukrainian plates), four large civilian buses (with Ukrainian plates), and one commercial truck (with Ukrainian plates), queuing to enter the Russian Federation.
The SMM monitored the situation of civilians in the vicinity of the contact line. In Avdiivka, the mayor told the SMM that the city had two or three days of reserve water supply. He explained that a water filtration plant, located between Avdiivka and Yasynuvata, was not functioning because of security concerns. The plant’s management confirmed to the SMM by phone that the plant was not functioning. At a Ukrainian Border Guard checkpoint near the bridge in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed approximately 50 men and women of various ages waiting to cross from government-controlled to “LPR”-controlled areas. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that every day 2,500-3,000 people travel in both directions, with half of them returning the same day. A Ukrainian border guard present told the SMM that the high number was due to rumours in “LPR”-controlled areas that the Ukrainian Government would cut or cancel pensions for some categories of recipients. Of ten people the SMM spoke to, none mentioned this as a reason for crossing.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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. “LPR” members continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring many areas alongside the border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government, and consistently demand to review SMM patrol plans.
Denial of access:
- At a heavy weapons holding area in a government-controlled area, personnel present, upon learning of the nationality of one of the SMM monitors, refused to allow the monitor to continue inspecting the weapons.
- Armed “LPR” members at a checkpoint on the edge of “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (38km north-west of Luhansk) refused to allow the SMM to enter the village, saying they had orders not to allow the SMM to proceed.
- Armed men refused to allow the SMM to enter a military-style compound in “LPR”-controlled Chornukhyne (65km south-west of Luhansk). An “LPR” Cossack “commander” later called the SMM, saying that the SMM would not be allowed access to the specific compound unless it was explicitly mentioned in a patrol plan.
- At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk), an armed man insisted on seeing the SMM patrol plan and knowing the identity of the patrol members.
* 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”.
 All times in this report refer to Eastern European Time.