Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 13 May 2016

By SMukhametrakhimova

The SMM observed a slightly higher number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared to the previous day. The Mission observed weapons within withdrawal lines and others in holding areas. Armed men pointed weapons at the SMM at the unmanned aerial vehicle ground control station in a government-controlled area. The SMM observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance. The Mission followed up on the proliferation of weapons in areas outside of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) zone.

The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region.[1] While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 12-13 May the SMM heard a total of seven undetermined explosions and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-5km south of its position. Positioned in Donetsk city on the night of 12 May, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 7-10km north-west and west-north-west.

On the night of 12 May the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded six undetermined rounds fired west to east at an unknown distance north of its position.

From a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM saw one impact 2-4km north and heard 13 undetermined explosions 2-5km north, north-east and west-north-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk city), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions and four airbursts, bursts of heavy-machine gun and small- arms fire 2-7km west. While in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard seven mortar explosions (82mm), saw and heard two mortar air blasts (82mm), 15 undetermined explosions, one automatic-grenade launcher impact, one undetermined air blast and over 150 bursts of heavy-machine gun and small-arms fire 3-5km south-east of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded a small number of ceasefire violations. While in a government-controlled part of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-6km south. Positioned in government-controlled Troitske (70km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 5-8km north-east.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted 16 tanks (ten T-72, six T-64) missing since 3 March 2016. Six mortars (2B9, 82mm) were also missing, as they have been since 31 March 2016. At one site, the SMM noted the same number and type of mortars as per the inventory but the serial number on one mortar did not match any in the inventory. At another site, all previously verified weapons were present.

The SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that all previously verified weapons were present.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in “DPR”-controlled Zelene (28km east of Donetsk).

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: ten multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) and six towed howitzers (2A36/Giatsint-B, 152mm). At a different site six towed howitzers (2A36/Giatsint-B, 152mm) were missing when the SMM arrived but were later observed returning to the site. Twenty-nine anti-tank guns (28 2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm; and one 2A19/T-12 Rapira, 100mm) were missing; 23 since 11 December 2015 and the remaining six since 22 March 2016. One area was abandoned, as first observed on 12 March, with eight towed howitzers (2A65 Msta B, 152mm) missing. Ukrainian Armed Forces delayed the SMM’s access at one site.*

Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites the SMM observed a self-propelled howitzer (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) on a stationary train in government-controlled Rubizhne (85km north-west of Luhansk).

At approximately 02:45 on 13 May five armed men in a cougar vehicle – who identified themselves as members of the National Guard – arrived at the ground control station for SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations near government-controlled Stepanivka (51km north-west of Donetsk), just after an SMM UAV had landed. As they approached the SMM in an intimidating manner, one man – who identified himself as a Lieutenant – loaded his pistol and ordered the SMM not to move. The other four pointed their automatic weapons at the SMM. They asked the SMM for identification, which was provided. They phoned the Ukrainian Air Force Liaison Officer and then left the area at approximately 03:00.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) in the security zone. Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 5 May of 29 armoured vehicles in the wider area of Svitlodarsk and “DPR”-controlled Lozove (54km north-east of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines, the SMM monitored military movements in the Dnepropetrovsk region on 12 and 13 May. The SMM saw two full mechanized infantry battalions (including 31 tanks (T-64), 53 BMP 2, two armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and eight armoured tracked vehicles) with logistical elements being loaded onto rail wagons near government-controlled Melioratyvne (32km north-east of Dnepropetrovsk).

The SMM observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Krymske (43km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM saw an unexploded mortar round stuck in the road, which the checkpoint commander said they planned to remove in the coming days. The SMM observed a previously reported UXO (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) in government-controlled Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report, 4 March 2016). In “LPR”-controlled Kalynove Borschuvate (61km west of Luhansk), a man and a woman told the SMM of the presence of UXO on the sides of the road leading to a nearby mining complex. The SMM went to the area and saw a bottle on a stick suggesting the presence of UXO. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM saw eight previously observed mines, protected with concrete blocks and marked with hazard signs.

Outside of Donbas the SMM followed up on the proliferation of weapons from the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) zone. In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM spoke to the chief of patrol police concerning an incident on the night of 12 May when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-22) was allegedly fired at the house of a businessman in Ugornyky (3.7km east of Ivano-Frankivsk). According to the officer the grenade had not fully exploded and no one had been injured. He noted that there were cases of individuals bringing weapons to the region from the ATO zone.

Police at the scene of an alleged storming of a car park linked to a property dispute in Kyiv’s Darnytskyi district told the SMM that a stun grenade had been thrown and weapons used. Three people had been injured, according to police. At the scene the SMM saw blast marks to a wall of a building. In Kharkiv, the SMM was told by a regional Ministry of Interior official and the police that a man had been detained for allegedly smuggling small arms and light weapons from the ATO zone. According to them, law enforcement officers had discovered machine guns, pistols, ammunition, grenades and mines at a number of locations. Police said that the suspect had connections with service personnel in the ATO zone. An investigation has been launched on charges of illegal handling of weapons, ammunition or explosives (article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

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

  • Seven armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM in “DPR”-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), said they could not monitor in the area and told them to leave. The SMM left the area.

Delayed access:

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers denied the SMM access to a heavy weapons holding area. The JCCC was contacted and access was given after 22 minutes.

Other restrictions:

  • The SMM could not check the power supply to the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (8.5km north-west of Donetsk) due to security concerns as a suspicious green tube (approximately 25x10cm long) had been placed directly in front of the power supply.

[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..

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.

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