Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 16 June 2015

This report is provided for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*. The situation at and around Donetsk airport remained relatively calm, with fewer ceasefire violations recorded by the SMM. The SMM conducted crater analysis and revisited a number of heavy weapons holding areas of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR”. In Minsk, the SMM Chief Monitor chaired the Trilateral Contact Group’s Working Group on Security.

In Minsk, the SMM Chief Monitor chaired the Trilateral Contact Group’s Working Group on Security. The participants discussed security issues. The Working Group established consensus on a number of issues, including on unconditional support by all sides to the SMM’s freedom of movement.

The situation at and around Donetsk airport was relatively calm. Between 13:00 and 15:30hrs and between 17:00 and 17:30hrs, at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at the Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard several bursts from small arms and light weapons and a total of 15 explosions of unknown type to the west, north-west, north, and north-east at distances ranging between 1.5 and 3km from its position. The first of the explosions was followed by a strong blast wave, felt by the SMM patrol members. The JCCC Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at the observation post informed that no ceasefire violations had been recorded during the previous night, while each had registered only one ceasefire violation in their respective logbooks, in the morning, before the SMM arrived.

At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 77km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM was presented with separate ceasefire logbooks covering 15 June by representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces. The former had logged 102 violations, out of which 86 were attributed to illegal armed groups, including 11 cases of use of tube artillery, 20 cases of use of 120mm mortar, and four cases of tank fire. The Ukrainian Armed Forces reported two soldiers killed and three wounded in action. According to the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives’ logbooks, there were 87 violations – 22 attributed to Ukrainian Armed Forces and 65 to illegal armed groups. The Russian Federation Lieutenant-General highlighted that two possible attacks had been stopped on 15 June around the area of Donetsk airport, due to early intervention by the Russian Federation JCCC representatives. The Ukrainian Major-General, Head of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC, confirmed that the former reacted promptly to their request for action.

At Klishchiivka (government-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM met representatives from the social centre and residents, predominantly middle-aged women, who stated that on 13 June they heard incoming BM-21 Grad MLRS rockets, Uragan shelling, and heavy artillery fire in the areas between Dzerzhynsk and Kurdiumivka (both government-controlled, 42km north and 52km north-northeast of Donetsk, respectively). Occasionally they heard outgoing shelling from Kurdiumivka. According to the residents, the situation had been calm before the shelling.

The SMM met with the deputy chief of police in Artemivsk (government-controlled, 66km north-north-east of Donetsk) who stated that there was an ongoing problem with crimes, especially theft, and that suspects avoid law enforcement by escaping to non-government controlled areas

The SMM observed that the overall situation in the Luhansk region was calm. However, at Toshkivka (government-controlled, 60km north of Luhansk) the SMM heard 16 outgoing artillery shots from an easterly direction, approximately 8km away, followed by the sound of incoming explosions from heavy artillery, at the same location. At Toshkivka, the SMM further conducted analysis of two craters which it assessed to have resulted from one 122mm rocket, as well as a 152mm shell. The SMM determined that both originated from a southerly direction.

On 15 June, at Pervomaisk (“Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled, 57km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed three shelling impacts at the same residential house. At the house, the SMM observed damage to the walls and windows consistent with tank rounds. The occupants showed the SMM pieces of shell casing consistent with 125mm tank rounds. The SMM was told by an elderly woman that one female civilian had died as a result of the shelling, showing shrapnel from the shelling to the SMM.

The SMM revisited seven Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At one site, the SMM verified that all six towed howitzers (152mm 2A36 “Giatsint-B”) previously recorded were in situ. At the same site, the SMM saw additional six towed howitzers of the same type, which were not previously recorded. At the six other sites, the SMM observed that some of the heavy weapons previously recorded were missing: one self-propelled howitzer (152mm 2S3 “Akatsiya”) at one site; two multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) (122mm BM-21 “Grad”) at a second site; three MLRS (122mm BM-21 “Grad”) at a third site; four towed howitzers (152mm 2A65 “Msta-B”) at a fourth site; four towed howitzers (152mm 2A65 “Msta-B”) at a fifth site; and eight anti-tank guns (100mm 2A29 MT-12 “Rapira”) at a sixth site. At the last site, the SMM was not given access to a part of the site where eight anti-tank missile systems (9P149 “Shturm-S”) were previously held.

The SMM also revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At one site, the SMM found one towed artillery piece (152mm 2A65 “Msta-B”) with serial numbers previously not recorded by the SMM. Two previously recorded pieces of the same type were missing. The person in charge of the site explained that one was taken out for training, while he could not explain the absence of the other. At the other “DPR” site the SMM found five previously recorded pieces of the same type of artillery, out of which three had the same numbers as the SMM, while two had different numbers.

In “DPR”-controlled areas, an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) detected four howitzers and 14 main battle tanks (MBTs), including a concentration of ten MBTs around Michurine (“DPR”-controlled, 63km south of Donetsk). In government-controlled areas the SMM UAV spotted four MBTs and three artillery pieces. In Shyrokyne, the SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted seven houses on fire.

The SMM observed the movement of a convoy, including two armoured personnel carriers (BTR), an anti-aircraft gun (Zu23, 23mm), 13-15 trucks and vehicles, in the north-western part of Donetsk city (“DPR”-controlled) travelling to the west. Further to the north, in a government-controlled are, the SMM observed a convoy of approximately ten trucks of soldiers and equipment, escorted by two armoured personnel carriers, heading south.

With regard to the transfer of three criminal cases from the anti-terrorist (ATO) zone, the head of the district court in Industryalnii district in Dnepropetrovsk, informed the SMM of difficulties accessing witnesses from the ATO zone, who cannot attend court hearings due to freedom of movement restrictions.

In Vinnitsia (215km north-east of Chernivtsi), the SMM met representatives of a recently-established non-governmental organization (NGO),Common Cause (Spilna Sprava), which is ran by internally displaced persons (IDPs) and has a membership of around 300 persons (57 families), mostly from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The NGO representatives informed the SMM about difficulties experienced by IDPs at work and in accessing housing due to negative attitudes among the local population. Lastly, there has been a concern related to an “LPR” statement, saying that they would confiscate unattended property of IDPs, if they do not return soon.

On 16 June, the SMM observed a protest in front of the building of the Lviv regional administration by some 50 patients on hemodialysis  against supplying the hospital in Novoiavorivsk (40km west of Lviv) with old medical equipment, which, they say, endangers their lives and health. The governor and his deputy addressed the protesters, stating that they are against monopoly practices and welcome as many suppliers as possible. The protest was organized by the charity foundation “Road to Life”.

On 16 June, the SMM observed a rally in front of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) in Kyiv of around 500 women and men, predominantly aged 55 and above, who sought lower prices of gas and communal services, as well as adjustment of wages accounting for inflation. Around 150 police and National Guard officers secured the protest, which remained peaceful.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Odessa, Kherson, and Ivano-Frankivsk.

* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the presence of mines, the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines, as well as damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restriction on movement into high risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government.

Delay:

  • At a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, the SMM was held for ten minutes while the guards communicated on the phone with their superiors, requesting permission for the SMM’s visit. The SMM was eventually granted access, however instructed to inform “DPR” authorities in advance in the future and to arrange for a “DPR” escort.  

Prevented access:

  • On 16 June, at a Ukrainian Armed Forces-controlled check point, two soldiers informed the SMM that it could not continue further along that road towards Valuiske (government-controlled, 22km north-east of Luhansk), without giving any reasons. The SMM turned back.
  • At a heavy weapons holding area of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the SMM was not given access to a part of the site where eight anti-tank missile systems (9P149 “Shturm-S”) were previously held.

For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

Human Rights