Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 24 March 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM continued to observe a tense situation around Donetsk city and Svitlodarsk, while the situation in Luhansk region remained stable. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons and facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. It reached two border crossing points not controlled by the Government. The SMM faced restrictions of its freedom of movement in areas not controlled by the Government. Long queues of vehicles were observed at a checkpoint near the contact line. In Kyiv, the Mission monitored events related to the General Prosecutor’s Office.
The situation in Donetsk region remained tense over the last 24 hours. While the overall number of ceasefire violations remained high, no violations were recorded in the Yasynuvata-Avdiivka area . Despite repeated attempts, and the intervention of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), armed men refused the SMM access to “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk)*.
The situation in two other hotspots, the north-eastern outskirts of Donetsk city and government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), remained volatile. On 23 March, in Svitlodarsk, the SMM heard at least 64 undetermined explosions (including mortar rounds), 280 rounds of heavy-machine-gun fire and five rounds of automatic grenade launcher fire, at distances between 2km and 8km to the south, south-south-east and south-west of its position. In the evening and night hours of 23 to 24 March, from its position in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard nearly 100 undetermined explosions in the area of Donetsk airport and “DPR”-controlled Spartak (9km north of Donetsk).
The situation around Mariupol remained quiet, with only isolated violations of the ceasefire. The SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions south-west of government-controlled Ivanivka (56km north-west of Mariupol).
The situation was quiet in Luhansk region. However, in “LPR”-controlled Khoroshe (35km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 20 explosions at an undetermined distance to the south-east of its position.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of measures, the SMM observed, beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, three mortars (PM-120, 120mm) being towed west near government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-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 “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed six multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), six towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm), and four towed anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
The SMM observed the presence of other hardware within the security zone in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. In both “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Metalist (6km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed one parked armoured personnel carrier (APC) (MT-LB). The SMM also observed four infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP) and two APCs (MT-LB and BTR-70) in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (57km north-east of Donetsk). In “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a stationary Ural truck carrying a ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun. In the vicinity of government-controlled Muratove (50km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Krymske (43km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed two APCs (BTR-70 and BTR-60, respectively). In government-controlled Karlivka (26km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a stationary APC (BTR, model uncertain).
The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to a water pipeline in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk) which will provide water for the “LPR”-controlled cities of Krasnyi Luch (21km west of Luhansk), Alchevsk (40km south-west of Luhansk), and Antratsyt (51km south-west of Luhansk).
The SMM observed long lines at a checkpoint close to the contact line. In government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed more than 550 civilian vehicles waiting to travel west, and 300 civilian vehicles waiting to travel east at the last government-controlled checkpoint. Approximately 150 civilian pedestrians were waiting in line to travel east.
The SMM monitored the situation affecting civilians in the security zone. In “DPR”-controlled Khartsyzk (26km north-east of Donetsk) two women and one man (between 40 and 60 years of age) told the SMM that there was a lack of employment in the area. In Khartsyzk and “DPR”-controlled Ilovaisk (31km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM spoke with two separate groups of civilians who said they were anxious about the economic situation in areas not controlled by the Government and that they were afraid to voice their opinion. The head of the administration in “DPR”-controlled Karlo-Marksove (40km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that approximately 300 people were working at a nearby coalmine that once employed 1,200.
The SMM monitored border areas not controlled by the Government at Marynivka (79km east of Donetsk) and Uspenka (72km south-east of Donetsk) border crossing points. The SMM observed a line of 48 civilian cars and 12 commercial trucks waiting to cross into the Russian Federation in Marynivka and 88 commercial trucks and 52 civilian vehicles in Uspenka. Most of the vehicles had Ukrainian plate numbers.
In Kyiv, the SMM observed as the Deputy General Prosecutor presented nine dismissal notices for members of a team of investigators from the General Prosecutor’s Office at a press event. He said the team had been processing 40 corruption cases, and told the SMM that they had also been working on the case of two members of the General Prosecutor’s Office arrested in an operation last summer. A spokesperson for the General Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged the dismissal of members of the investigative team at a press conference later in the day, citing a lack of professionalism.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, and Chernivtsi.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate
The SMM’s monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM's mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.
Denial of access:
- At a checkpoint outside “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk), armed men told the SMM that the entry to Yasynuvata was closed due to heavy shelling in the area. The SMM was allowed to proceed but was again stopped before it could reach Yasynuvata at a temporary checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Zemlianky (17km north-east of Donetsk), and this time was not allowed to proceed. The SMM contacted the JCCC and a Russian Federation Armed Forces representative arrived but armed men refused to allow the SMM to proceed.
- The SMM returned to the checkpoint near Zemlianky in the afternoon and was allowed to pass the checkpoint with a “DPR” escort. The SMM was escorted to the edges of Yasynuvata where it was told to wait for another escort. No escort appeared on the spot and the SMM was not allowed to travel further. After waiting for 20 minutes, the SMM returned to Donetsk.
- At an “LPR” checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), an armed man told the SMM that he did not have authorization to allow the SMM to pass. The SMM contacted the JCCC and was allowed to pass after approximately 30 minutes.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.