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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine


Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine

Daily report based on information received as of 19:30, 22 May 2016


The SMM observed a similar level of violence in Donetsk region both on 21 and 22 May as compared to 20 May and observed an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region on 21 May and fewer on 22 May - compared to 20 May. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, and noted the presence of armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. The Mission followed up on reports of shelling and conducted crater analysis in government-controlled Avdiivka. Some 600 people gathered in front of the residence of SMM monitors in Donetsk city. It also monitored events on the occasion of the “Day of Heroes” in Lviv and a protest in Chernivtsi. The Mission’s freedom of movement was restricted on eight occasions, exclusively in areas not controlled by the Government.*

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations [1] on 21 May as in the previous reporting period. The SMM camera in Shyrokyne (government-controlled, 20km east of Mariupol) recorded 50 bursts of tracer rounds assessed as caused by heavy-machine-gun fire at an undetermined distance from east to west. During the day, in the Avdiivka (government-controlled, 17km north of Donetsk)* area, the SMM heard one explosion assessed as a mortar round impact 3km south of its position. Whilst at the Yasynuvata railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM recorded four undetermined explosions and 13 single shots of small arms from directions west, north-west, and west-south-west 2-6km of its position.

On 22 May the SMM recorded a higher number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared to 21 May. During the night hours of 21-22 May, whilst in Donetsk city centre the SMM recorded 89 undetermined explosions, 7-15km north-north-west and north-north-east of its position. During the day the SMM camera in Shyrokyne recorded 28 rounds of indirect fire from an undetermined distance (in directions from south-west to north-east and south-east to north-west). Whilst in Yasynuvata the SMM heard three undetermined explosions and six single shots of small-arms fire 2-5km west of its position. It also heard 71 undetermined explosions and seven outgoing explosions assessed as caused by tanks, three impacts of automatic-grenade launcher rounds and over 140 bursts and at least 87 single shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 1-6km north-west, west, west-south-west and south-west of its position.

Compared to 20 May, the SMM observed an increase in the number of ceasefire violations in Luhansk region mainly during night hours on both 21 and 22 May. Whilst in Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM heard on 21 May during night hours, continuous exchange of fire including 75 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of mortar and artillery fire 4km south of its position.

The SMM followed up on Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) reports about shelling of Avdiivka during the night of 21-22 May and observed impacts and saw six civilian houses damaged. The SMM observed damage to doors, windows and roofs, and one house burned down. The SMM conducted analysis of three craters and its assessment showed that the impacts were caused by 82mm and120mm mortar rounds, fired from east and east-south-east directions.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines, and noted that all previously verified weapons were present.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures.

In violation of respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed in government-controlled areas four surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) in Nyzhnie (54km north-west of Luhansk) and one surface-to-air missile system (SA-8 Osa, 120mm) near Dmytrivka (government-controlled, 55km south-west of Donetsk).

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 notification.

In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). The SMM observed that five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) were missing (first observed missing on 3 March 2016).

In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed: eight towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm), nine mortars (PM-38, 120mm), nine multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM-21 Grad, 122mm), eight anti-tank guns (MT-12Rapira, 100mm), 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), and for the first time one additional self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika,122mm) and five additional towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm). The SMM observed the following weapons missing: two anti-tank guns (MT-12Rapira, 100mm), first observed missing on 8 December 2015), three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), (two first observed missing on 8 November and one on 22 December 2015), six mortars (PM-38, 120mm), first observed missing on 8 March 2016); 12 towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) (five first observed missing on 19 June 2015, four on 27 February 2016, two on 7 April 2016, and one on 22 May 2016).

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed: two armoured personnel carriers (APCs, BTRs) and one armoured artillery reconnaissance vehicle (SNAR-10) east of Nyzhnie (54km north-west of Luhansk); a military truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Zolote (60km west of Luhansk); one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk) and two APCs (BTR) in Popasna (69km west of Luhansk). In “DPR”-controlled areas: eight infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; MT-LB) 6km south of Donetsk airport. In “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city the SMM observed two tank transporter trucks (MAZ537), each carrying an IFV (MT-LB). In addition, the SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted in government-controlled areas: two APCs near Nevelske (18km north-west of Donetsk), one APC near Krasnohorivka (21km north-west of Donetsk), four APCs and one anti-aircraft gun near Dyliivka (47km north-east of Donetsk), eight APCs near Pershe Travnia (50km north-east of Donetsk), six in Kodema (54km north-east of Donetsk) on 19 May; seven APCs near Novoluhanske (55km north-east of Donetsk), one APC near Semyhiria (56km north-east of Donetsk) on 21 May, one APC near Avdiivka, nine APCs in areas between government-controlled Luhanske and “DPR”-controlled Lozove (57 and 54km north-east of Donetsk) on 22 May; in “DPR-controlled areas the UAV spotted one APC near Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk) on 19 May.

The SMM monitored the presence of other hardware. In the area east of Nyzhnie, the SMM saw two military trucks (ZIL 130) mounted with universal minelayers, a remote mining system for laying anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.

The SMM facilitated adherence to the ceasefire and monitored repairs to essential infrastructure. The SMM monitored work on a water pipeline conveying water from government-controlled Petrivka pumping station (27km north of Luhansk) to Luhansk city and its surroundings. Further repair work is supposed to continue in the coming days.

On 22 May, outside the residence of the SMM in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM observed approximately 600 men, women and children – most of whom had arrived in a convoy of mini-buses – being marshalled by a number of men, and holding anti-OSCE banners and chanting anti-OSCE slogans. The SMM noted the presence of several armed “DPR” members. The protest passed off peacefully, with participants dispersing after 1.5hrs.

The SMM monitored a border area not controlled by the Government*. On 21 May the SMM monitored the “LPR”-controlled pedestrian border crossing point in Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) and observed within 30 minutes 17 pedestrians crossing into the Russian Federation and five entering Ukraine, all five of whom were carrying bags.

On 22 May the SMM monitored a number of events on the occasion of the “Day of Heroes”in Lviv. The SMM observed some 300 people (men and women of different ages) at the Lykhachiv cemetery, where representatives of the local and regional administration and some 100 servicemen also participated in a commemoration event. Forty police officers at the cemetery observed the event. Another commemoration took place at the Stepan Bandera square with about 1,500 people (men and women of different ages). Fifty police officers were present at the event. The commemoration was followed by a march to the Shevchenko monument. The SMM did not observe any incidents.

On 20 May the SMM monitored a protest in Chernivtsi against the holding of elections in Donbas. The protest was organized by the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) and gathered 28 people (aged 25-60, men and women), half of them – mainly men – dressed in military-type clothing with Right Sector insignia. Twelve law enforcement officers observed the protest, which lasted for 1.5hrs.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, 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:

  • Armed “DPR” members continue to keep the power supply to SMM’s repeater in Donetsk city disconnected. As a result, SMM remote monitoring equipment at “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine and in government-controlled Avdiivka cannot operate. (see SMM Daily Report 21 May 2016).
  • On 21 May an armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM at an “LPR” checkpoint at the entrance of Sokilnyky (“LPR”-controlled, 38km north-west of Luhansk). He escorted the SMM a few hundred metres towards the village where he stopped and told the SMM that it could not proceed further due to the absence of the local “commander”. He asked the SMM to return to the checkpoint, where the SMM waited for 45 minutes. The SMM contacted the JCCC but the restriction could not be resolved.
  • On 22 May armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM in Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) and did not allow the patrol to proceed further citing security reasons. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • On 22 May “LPR” “border guards” stopped the SMM in Novokyivka (“LPR”-controlled, 25km east of Luhansk) and said that permission from their superior was not granted and therefore the SMM could not proceed further to Ohulchansk (“LPR”-controlled, 26km east of Luhansk). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • On 22 May an armed “LPR” member denied the SMM access to the electro-mechanical plant in Stakhanov (“LPR”-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), citing the absence of his superior. An armed “LPR” member denied a further attempt of the SMM to enter the plant. The SMM informed the JCCC
  • On 22 May armed “LPR” members stopped the SMM in Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk) citing security reasons related to demining activities. The SMM contacted the JCCC and after 13 minutes the SMM was allowed to proceed further.

Conditional access:

  • On 22 May at the Yasynuvata railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 16km north-east of Donetsk), two “DPR” members noted the patrol leader’s name and SMM vehicle plates, and inquired about the patrol’s planned movements within Yasynuvata. The SMM was then allowed to proceed.

Other impediments:

  • On 21 May, while flying over “DPR”-controlled Dolomitne (52km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM long-range UAV spotted one individual firing at the UAV. The shooting lasted for approximately 3-5 minutes.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.