Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 25 June 2015

This report is 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 the Donetsk airport and Shyrokyne was tense. The SMM observed ceasefire violations in several locations in the Luhansk region. The SMM facilitated a local ceasefire in Raivka (Luhansk region), which allowed for the repairs of an electric substation.

The situation at and around Donetsk airport was tense. Between 12:25 and 17:00hrs, at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM observed a total of 59 explosions consistent with mortar fire as well as bursts consistent with automatic grenade launcher, heavy machine gun and small-arms and light-weapons fire. The SMM assessed that the explosions occurred at locations to the north, north-west, north-east and west, at distances between 3 and 8km from its position.[1]

The situation around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) was tense.  The SMM, from its observation points located 1.5 and 3.5km west of Shyrokyne, heard 147 explosions consistent with outgoing and incoming tank and mortar fire, heavy machine gun and small- arms fire and saw several airbursts in and around Shyrokyne. The SMM also heard unidentified detonations in the distance north and north-east of its position.

At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM was presented with two logbooks, compiled independently by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives to the JCCC. The Ukrainian Armed Forces logbook recorded 63 ceasefire violations; 20 attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 43 to “DPR” and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”). The Russian Federation Armed Forces logbook contained 55 ceasefire violations; 22 attributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and 33 to “DPR” and “LPR”.

In the Kuybyshevskyi district of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM met the “deputy head” of the “district administration” who said that, as of 22 June, 298 people including 30 children had applied for relocation out of areas closest to fighting and most affected by military actions but that the “district administration” could provide temporary accommodation to only eight families (37 persons). He said that he expects the number of people applying for relocation to increase significantly in the very near future.

At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Volnovakha (government-control, 49km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a 2.5km queue waiting to cross into government-controlled areas including 20 trucks and 417 cars with hundreds of passengers, male and female of various ages including children. The SMM also observed a queue of 3.5km waiting to cross into “DPR”-controlled areas including 30 trucks and 684 cars waiting to cross into government-controlled territories. The personnel at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint told the SMM that it takes up to 24 hours to cross due to the new procedures. The SMM did not observe any toilet facilities or access to water and food and also noted that some of the people queuing were visibly upset at the situation.

The SMM visited a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint located at 60km north of Donetsk and observed a queue of 280 civilian vehicles, three buses and one ambulance waiting to cross into “DPR”-controlled areas. The commander told the SMM that 20 per cent of civilians attempted to cross without a valid permit and were refused passage. He also said that the latest government decree of 16 June prohibited the passage across the contact line of all heavy trucks except for humanitarian assistance but that there was a lack of definition of what a heavy truck constituted. The SMM did not note any facilities for those queuing.

The SMM met the deputy mayor of Druzhkivka (government-controlled, 70km north-north-west of Donetsk) who said that the city’s statue of Lenin had been removed on 23 June in accordance with the new Ukrainian law “on condemnation of Communist and National-Socialist (Nazism) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and ban of propaganda of its symbols,” which was introduced 21 May 2015. She further stated that 67 Soviet-era street names would also be changed.

The SMM travelled to Sakhanka (“DPR”-controlled, 24km east-north-east of Mariupol) to verify media reports of shelling having occurred on 24 June. On Mira Street and 60 years of October Street, the SMM analysed 19 craters based on which it assessed that the impacts were caused by long range 82mm mortars fired from a south-westerly direction. The SMM observed three private houses destroyed as a result of direct impacts and an additional six damaged. The SMM observed blood marks in a courtyard and later confirmed with the Novoazovsk hospital that one man had died and one woman was wounded in the shelling.

In the Luhansk region, the SMM observed several ceasefire violations in the government-controlled areas of Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) and Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), as well as in “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk). Except for Popasna, in all other areas, the majority of fire observed was assessed as incoming.

The SMM facilitated a local ceasefire to repair an electrical substation in Raivka (“LPR”-controlled, 18km north-west of Luhansk). The JCCC headquarters provided guarantees for the ceasefire, which held during the repair period.

In “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city, the SMM visited four locations and observed the presence of 38 trucks with Russian license plates and a banner on the side reading “humanitarian aid convoy from the Russian Federation”. The “head” of the “LPR” “centre for reconstruction and renovation” told the SMM that 16 tons of medical supplies had been unloaded in one depot and 224, 154 and 30 tons of goods at the other three locations. He also said that aid would be delivered in 40,000 packages throughout “LPR”-controlled areas including hospitals and summer camps for children; it would also be delivered through 21 soup kitchens and would also help them to support 5-6,000 prisoners located in “LPR”-controlled areas. The SMM monitored some unloading of the cargo which contained flour and cereals, but did not monitor the whole process.

The SMM revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas the location of which complied with the respective withdrawal lines, and verified that all 12 and six previously recorded weapons were in situ. The SMM also revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas the locations of which complied with the respective withdrawal lines. On two of these sites, the SMM verified that all previously recorded weapons were in situ. When approaching the third site, the SMM saw four multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (122mm, MB-21 Grad) and one military truck driving on the road which were all in situ once the SMM arrived at the location. The local commander said that they had been stationary there since February and it is necessary to drive them for maintenance only.

Despite claims by all sides that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed one main battle tank (MBT) (T-64) in “DPR”-controlled areas and two MBTs (T-60) in government-controlled areas that are in violation of withdrawal lines according to the Minsk Package.

In Dnepropetrovsk, the SMM observed a conference on criminal investigation and identification where the head representative of the forensic bureau stated that in Zaporizhzhia, while the majority of the cases of using DNA sampling to identify bodies from the Anti-Terrorism Operation zone had been processed, some cases are still pending. This is due to the lack of sophistication of the equipment and due to the nature of the injuries that had led to the servicepersons’ death.

On 23 June, at the Chonhar crossing point (165km south-east of Kherson) along the administrative boundary line with Crimea, the SMM observed approximately 40 travellers with children who were prevented by the Ukrainian border guards from passing through to Crimea. The Ukrainian border guard explained that Decisions 367[2] of the Cabinet of Ministers requires children under 16 to either be in possession of a passport valid for foreign travel (in case of travelling on their own) or to be included on one of the parents’ foreign travel passports. Previously a birth certificate was sufficient. The travellers said to the SMM that they were not aware of this change in policy.

The SMM met the Chernivtsi region’s military commissar who said that out of 780 recruits 345 had been mobilized in April 2015 under the fifth wave of mobilization. In Chernivtsi city, only 16 per cent of the mobilisation objective had been met. The sixth wave, which commenced on 19 June, foresees the mobilization of more than a thousand people. The military administration, in order to improve the system and show the transparency of the process, had started delivering draft notices in public places like markets and squares, said the interlocutor.

The SMM monitored a demonstration in Lviv where 1,000 men and women of different ages marched from the Shevchenko monument to the Lviv regional administration building and protested against the price increase of utilities, including gas and electricity. The event was organized by non-governmental organizations including the Association of Officers, the Anti-corruption Committee, Galician Kozatstvo and Narodnyi Front. Ten police officers were present at the event, which ended peacefully.

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

* 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 – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM by both the “DPR” and “LPR”.  SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.

Delay:

  • The SMM was delayed at three “DPR”-controlled checkpoints, two in Oktiabr and one in Zaichenko, (26 and 25km north-east of Mariupol) for 20 minutes each time.

Prevented access:

  • While en route from Luhansk city to Zhovte (“LPR”-controlled, 17km north of Luhansk), the SMM was stopped and told by “LPR” members at a checkpoint leading into the village that due to security concerns, the SMM could not proceed. The SMM stayed at the checkpoint for 35 minutes following which it returned to its base.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.

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

[2] Resolution 367 of 4 June2015, Order of Entry and Exit from/to Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine

Human Rights