Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 27 March 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed an increase in ceasefire violations around Donetsk city and in the Yasynuvata-Avdiivka area compared with 25 March. The situation in Luhansk region remained calm with no ceasefire violations recorded. The Mission observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance, and the marking off of mined areas in the security zone. It reached three border crossing points not controlled by the Government. The SMM faced a number of restrictions of its freedom of movement on both sides of the contact line.*
The SMM observed an increase in ceasefire violations around Donetsk city and in the Yasynuvata-Avdiivka area on 26 and 27 March, compared with 25 March.  On 26 March, whilst at the Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard 44 undetermined explosions and one burst of heavy-machine-gun fire at locations ranging from west-north-west to north-east at 3-8km from its position. In the morning hours of the same day, in “DPR”-controlled Budonivskyi district (5km south-east of Donetsk city centre), while operating its mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the area, the SMM heard ten single shots of small-arms fire 700m south-east of its position. The UAV did not sustain any damage. The next day, while at the Donetsk railway station, the SMM saw and heard three airbursts, heard 21 undetermined explosions, 17 single shots and one burst of small-arms fire at locations ranging from north-west to north-east at 2-8km from its position.
In the area between government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations. On 26 March, whilst in Yasynuvata, the SMM heard a total of 143 undetermined explosions assessed to have been caused by, among others, mortar (82mm) and automatic grenade launcher, and one burst and 274 single shots of small-arms fire, mostly 2-3km west of its position. The next day, at the same location, the SMM recorded a total of at least 338 undetermined explosions and 116 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 1.5-2km west and south-west of its position. On the same day, whilst in Avdiivka, the SMM saw and heard 13 explosions caused by outgoing rounds of artillery (122mm) 6-7km east-north-east and 13 impacts of artillery (122mm) 4-7km east-south-east of its position. It also recorded 16 impacts of mortar rounds (82mm and 122mm), six impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm) rounds and 53 impacts of automatic grenade launcher rounds, mostly 3-7km east-south-east of its position. The SMM assessed that most of mortar rounds impacted in and around an industrial zone on the south-eastern edge of Avdiivka. The SMM observed a mortar (82mm) round hit a civilian house west of the industrial zone, and saw smoke climbing from the house as a result of the impact.
On 26 March, while positioned 1km north of government-controlled Chermalyk (31km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions, 27 of which caused by 82mm mortar rounds, 54 bursts and ten single shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire to the east at an undetermined distance at directions ranging from north to east-south-east. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that a soldier had been killed by a booby trap in the area the previous day. On 27 March, while in the village, the SMM heard one airburst and four bursts of small-arms fire 4-5km south-east of its position.
In Luhansk region, the SMM did not record any ceasefire violations on 26 or 27 March.
In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited an “LPR” permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and observed that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to that site were present.
In violation of the respective withdrawal line, on 27 March, the SMM saw a 120mm mortar being towed by a truck near Avdiivka, heading east.
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 respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such sites and observed nine multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), and one Addendum-regulated mortar (PM-38, 120mm). Nine Addendum-regulated mortars (PM-38, 120mm) were missing from one of those sites.
Beyond withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed two self-propelled howitzers (possibly 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) on 26 March.
The SMM observed the presence of other hardware within the security zone in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. On 26 March, the SMM observed: one stationary multi-purpose armoured vehicles (MT-LB) in Petrovskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 21km south-west of Donetsk city centre), as well as an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a stationary Ural truck near an “LPR” checkpoint across the bridge from government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk). On 27 March, the SMM observed: one armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR-80), heading north near government-controlled Olhynka (41km south-west of Donetsk), eight armoured combat vehicles (undetermined model) near government-controlled Solodke (33km south-west of Donetsk), five MT-LBs and two towed artillery (undetermined calibre) near government-controlled Ptyche (31km north-west of Donetsk).
The SMM observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). On 26 March, in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw what it assessed as a UXO embedded in the middle of the road. In the market area of Debaltseve, the SMM observed a Grad rocket embedded in the road and assessed that the warhead was still underground. On 27 March, on the main road in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed an unexploded 40mm grenade and an exploded 82mm grenade tail, part of which was stuck in asphalt.
The SMM observed the marking off of mined areas within the security zone. On 26 March, in government-controlled Bobrove (56km north-west from Luhansk), the SMM observed mine signs attached to trees alongside the main road. On the same day, in the government-controlled part of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed newly mounted mine signs on both roadsides of the bridge – across a 200m pedestrian walkway. On 27 March, the SMM observed four anti-tank mines placed in a line together with a mine signs on the road leading in northern direction from the first government-controlled checkpoint near Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). It also observed several small red mine signs on the right side of a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk), as well as on both sides of highway H20 at locations approximately 200m and 800m south of the checkpoint. The SMM also observed a concrete block marked “mine” at an unused checkpoint in the north-western outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Vuhlerisk (48km north-east of Donetsk).
The SMM monitored the situation at railways. On 27 March, in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM noted the railway tracks were covered in rust and assessed them not to have been used for some time. Four residents (three women aged 50-80 and one man aged 50) told the SMM that the railway has not been operated since the start of the conflict. In “DPR”-controlled Mospyne (25km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw that the railway was functioning. A worker (woman aged 40) at the railway station informed the SMM that the railway has been only used for freight (mainly coal).
The SMM monitored border areas not controlled by the Government and observed a calm station. On 25 March, at the Chervonopartyzansk border crossing point (67km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed eight civilian vehicles (five with Ukrainian license plates and three with Russian Federation license plates) and one civilian truck (with Ukrainian license plates) waiting to cross to the Russian Federation. On the next day, the SMM visited border crossing points in Krasnodarskyi and Nyzhnia Harasymivka (57 and 56km south-east of Luhansk, respectively), where it observed a low number of pedestrians crossing: eight people at the former and one person at the latter. At both crossing points, the SMM noted armed men wearing face-covering masks/scarves.
On 24 March, the SMM continued to monitor areas along the border between Ukraine and Moldova, in Velyka Kisnytsia (189km east of Chernivtsi, Vinnytsia region) and in Yampil (174km east of Chernivtsi). The SMM observed a calm situation, which was also confirmed by the state border guards.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, and Kyiv.
*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:
- On 26 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint on the north-western outskirts of Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district, the “commander” of the checkpoint did not allow the SMM to proceed further to east. The SMM noticed that civilian traffic was allowed to pass.
- On 26 March, near recently dug trenches in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve, armed men requested the SMM to leave the area.
- On 27 March, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel did not allow the SMM to proceed further to the south.
- On 26 March, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Kriakivka (37km north-west of Luhansk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel asked the SMM to show OSCE IDs and open the trunk of the vehicles, citing an order from their supervisor to check all the vehicles, including OSCE ones.
- On 26 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint near Oleksandrivka (“DPR”-controlled, 20km south-west of Donetsk), armed men demanded to see national passports of the SMM monitors, which the SMM refused to show. After writing the names and OSCE ID numbers of the SMM monitors, and checking the inside of the SMM vehicles, they allowed the SMM to proceed.
- On 27 March, at a checkpoint between government-controlled Novoekonomichne and Hrodivka (46 and 43km north-west of Donetsk, respectively), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel stopped the SMM and searched its vehicles before allowing it to pass.
- On 27 March, at a checkpoint on the eastern edge of Yasynuvata, armed men delayed the SMM for 20 minutes. The SMM was allowed to proceed only under escort by armed men.
- On the morning hours of 27 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint near Oleksandrivka, armed men asked to see national passports of the SMM monitors. After showing them, the SMM was allowed to proceed.
- On 27 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint near Oleksandrivka, armed men asked the SMM to show OSCE IDs of the SMM monitors and open the trunk of the SMM vehicles before allowing it to proceed further.
- On 26 March, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Berdianske (8km west of Mariupol), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel asked to check the SMM vehicles. The SMM contacted the JCCC and was allowed to pass after 43 minutes.
- On 26 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint at the eastern edge of Yasynuvata, armed men delayed the SMM for 16 minutes.
- On the evening hours of 27 March, at a “DPR” checkpoint near Oleksandrivka armed men demanded to see national passports of the SMM monitors which the SMM refused to show. After checking OSCE IDs, they allowed the SMM to proceed after 20 minutes.
 For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.