Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 12 May 2016

By Rhuseynov

This report is for media and the general public.

In Donetsk region, the SMM noted an increase in the number of recorded ceasefire violations compared with the previous day. In Luhansk region it continued to note a low level of ceasefire violations. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair to essential infrastructure, and at one occasion “DPR” members prevented it from doing so.* The Mission monitored the situation affecting civilians in areas near the contact line. It monitored an area close to the border not under government control. The Mission observed a protest in Kyiv.

The SMM noted an increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region compared to the previous day, with double the number of explosions (41), yet relatively low compared to two days prior.[1] In the night hours of 11 May, whilst in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and 33 single shots 5-10km north-north-west of its position. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions 3-5km north and north-north-west of its position. The SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk city centre) recorded one undetermined explosion 6km south of its position, as well as one undetermined projectile flying from south-south-west to north-east and one mortar round from south-east to east-south-east, at an undetermined distance.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard, during the night of 11 May and early morning hours of the following day, five undetermined explosions, at least 20 bursts of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, 15 bursts of anti-aircraft-gun fire (ZU-23-2), at least 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and more than 120 single shots of small-arms fire, 1-5km south-east of its position.

The SMM camera in government-controlled Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded 11 bursts of undetermined direct tracer rounds from south-east to north-west and subsequently five bursts of undetermined direct tracer rounds fired from west to east, all at an undetermined distance.

The situation in Luhansk region remained quiet, with one explosion recorded in government-controlled Putylyne (44km north-west of Luhansk) 5km south of the SMM’s position. While positioned on the makeshift wooden structure connecting the pieces of the destroyed Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard one shot of small-arms fire 300m east of its position, and whilst north of the bridge, the SMM heard a single burst of machine gun fire, 600m north-west of its position.

Positioned in a government-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as 120mm mortar fire, 2-3km north-west of its position. Whilst east of “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (39km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard, between 12:26 and 13:05, ten explosions assessed as caused by rocket-propelled grenades, ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and 100 shots of small-arms fire 2-3km south of its position. Whilst in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one undetermined loud explosion 5km north-west of its position.

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 observed that three main battle tanks (MBT; T-72, 125mm) previously observed at that site were missing – two of them since 5 March 2016 (see SMM Daily Report 7 March).

The SMM also revisited a “DPR” permanent storage site, whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines, and found that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines, but outside permanent storage sites, the SMM observed 15 tanks at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons 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 government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152 mm).

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles within the security zone. The SMM observed one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-2) stationary on a road in “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to observe the presence of unexploded ordnance and demining activity. In government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), following reports from two local civilians (aged 40) about a booby trap in a private back yard, the SMM informed the Ukrainian Armed Forces commander in the area. One hour later, he confirmed to the SMM that the booby trap had been cleared. In a residential area of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed the tail of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS; BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) rocket sticking 50cm out of the ground, which the SMM assessed to have been there since early 2015.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair to essential infrastructure. In “DPR”-controlled Petrovskyi district (15km south-west of Donetsk city centre) two armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from monitoring the progress of the repair works at the gas pipeline between Petrovskyi district and government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) through an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).* The SMM monitored the repair works of 600m water pipeline in a government-controlled part of Zolote.

The SMM monitored the situation of civilians at checkpoints near the contact line. At a government checkpoint in Marinka, on several occasions during the day, the SMM observed in total 550 civilian vehicles, 10 buses and 500 pedestrians queuing to enter government-controlled areas and 525 civilian vehicles waiting to travel in the opposite direction. At the government checkpoint north of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed 40 civilian vehicles and ten buses in the nearby parking lot. The SMM also observed 150 pedestrians waiting to cross into government-controlled areas and some 40 pedestrians waiting on the other side, all of them passing the control procedure within ten minutes.

The SMM monitored one area close to the border not under government control. At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartizansk (64km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 30 civilian cars queuing to cross to the Russian Federation, and some 35 civilian cars with Ukrainian license plates and three taxis parked at the border crossing point. The SMM observed five civilian cars and one bus all with Russian Federation licence plates crossing into Ukraine. Whilst in Chervonopartizansk, the SMM observed one cargo train with seven carts of coal moving towards “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk (60km south-east of Luhansk).

The SMM monitored the situation affecting civilians in areas near the contact line. Several residents (four females, aged 20-40) in government-controlled Toretsk (43km north of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve expressed to the SMM concerns about the economic situation and high unemployment rate. In government-controlled Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol) two employees of the local administration told the SMM that since a mine incident on 3 May when a tractor hit an anti-tank mine the farmers in Pavlopil were afraid to work in the fields, although the mayor of Pavlopil said to the SMM that the field had been demined twice. In government-controlled Krasna Talivka (50km north-east of Luhansk), three civilians (female, aged 45-65) told the SMM that there were areas around the village mined since 2014, and that locals were afraid to cultivate the fields. In government-controlled Hrechyshkyne (45km north-west of Luhansk) the head of the village council informed the SMM that their premises in Hrechyshkyne had been without power supply since 29 April. During the meeting with the head of the village council, the SMM was able to confirm the lack of electricity in the building.

In Kyiv the SMM monitored a protest of 300 individuals (men and women of various ages) in front of the Parliament, against changing the name of Kirovohrad city (206km west of Dnepropetrovsk), as foreseen in the de-communization laws and against utilization of Russian language in public settings and government proceedings. The SMM heard some of the participants voice their protest also against interruption of pension payment for Chernobyl veterans. The SMM observed 30 police and 20 National Guard officers. The Parliament building was cordoned off by security personnel. The SMM observed that the latter were checking the identification documents and bags of individuals entering the area near the Parliament. Later, the SMM observed nine white National Guard buses, including some180 National Guard officers, present at the site. The protest ended peacefully.

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:

  • In “LPR”-controlled Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk), a civilian vehicle overtook and stopped in front of the SMM vehicle on the way to the border crossing point to “LPR”-controlled Krasnodarskyi (56km south-east of Luhansk). An unarmed “LPR”- member denied further access to the SMM towards Krasnodarskyi, claiming that the SMM had no permission from his superiors. He wrote down the names of the SMM members and the number plates of the SMM vehicles. The SMM left, escorted by the civilian vehicle until near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk). The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC).
  • The SMM attempted to monitor the repair works at the gas pipeline in Petrovskyi district through a UAV, but a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the JCCC said that the SMM needed the permission of the “DPR” “commander” to fly a UAV. Two armed “DPR” members, who refused to identify themselves, threatened to shoot down the SMM UAV if it was launched. The Russian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC subsequently addressed this restriction and facilitated access for the SMM, but by that time weather conditions precluded launch of the UAV.

Delay:

  • In government-controlled Solodke (77km north of Mariupol), a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier prevented the SMM from entering a compound. The SMM left, but one hour later, his commanding officer authorised SMM access to the compound. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Pease 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.

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