Ukraine

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 17 June 2016

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This report is for media and the general public.

In Donetsk region, the SMM observed more ceasefire violations compared to the previous day. In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more explosions but less small-arms fire compared to the previous day. The Mission observed damage to houses in Dokuchaievsk and Novooleskandrivka, and continued to monitor the build-up of armed positions at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge. The SMM monitored the withdrawal of weapons and the presence of unexploded ordnance. It facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire in Vesela Horivka and Shchastia and visited two border areas not controlled by the Government. The SMM observed demonstrations in Odessa and Ivano-Frankivsk. An SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle crashed near government-controlled Stepanivka. The Mission’s freedom of movement was denied on two occasions, in areas not controlled by the Government__.*

The SMM observed more ceasefire violations[1] in Donetsk region as compared with the previous reporting period.

On the night of 16 June, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded two episodes of undetermined direct tracer fire from east to west; 12 bursts in the evening and ten bursts early in the morning.

Whilst in the centre of Donetsk city, before midnight on 16 June, the SMM heard approximately 80 undetermined explosions 10-12km north-west.

The following day, whilst in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) over the course of the day, the SMM heard 143 undetermined explosions and seven airbursts 2-8km west and north-west of its position.

Whilst in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard 12 explosions in a 15-minute period: eight assessed as 82mm mortar impacts and four as outgoing 82mm mortar rounds 2km east-south-east.

Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 11 explosions assessed as 82mm mortar impacts 4-6km west-south-west of its position.

The SMM observed more explosions but less small-arms fire in Luhansk region as compared to the previous reporting period. Whilst in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 74 explosions; 42 assessed as mortar (unknown calibre) and 32 as grenade-launcher (ASG-17) rounds 8-20km west and north-west.

The SMM followed up on reports of damages to houses. On 16 June, the SMM observed 11 fresh craters in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk) and assessed all of the impact sites as caused by 30mm automatic-grenade-launcher rounds. At least four of the rounds were assessed as fired from the west-south-west and one from the west or west-south-west. The SMM noted broken windows and shrapnel and impact damage to the walls and roofs of at least four homes. According to numerous residents, the shelling took place the previous evening between 19:00 and 20:00. Two residents (a man and a woman, 59 and 57 years old) told the SMM that the shelling was outgoing as well as incoming. A Russian Federation Armed Forces representative of the JCCC was present at the sites. On 16 June, in Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a fresh crater, approximately 20 metres from a civilian house, which it assessed as caused by a grenade from an under-barrel grenade launcher, fired from the west. The SMM observed a bullet hole in the window of the western facing side of a house and observed an impact mark on the wall of a room in the house.

“LPR” members continued to maintain an armed position north of the Siverskyi Donets river, beyond the contact line, at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (see SMM Daily Report 13 June). Six or seven men with small arms (mostly AK-47) were observed at the location. The SMM continued to urge the JCCC to facilitate compliance with the Minsk Memorandum and continued to facilitate dialogue between the sides to reduce tensions. Approximately 300 metres to the north, the SMM observed approximately 20 Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers with small arms (AK-47) reinforcing their new position with sand and automobile tyres. This position was established after armed “LPR” members had crossed the contact line and manned the aforementioned armed position (see SMM Daily Report 16 June). The SMM also noted that a heavy machine-gun (12.7mm) and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV; BMP-2) were present at the position. The SMM heard a total of two single shots of small-arms fire (1km north) and one undetermined explosion (1km south) while positioned at the bridge. At the same time, pedestrians continued to cross the bridge in both directions throughout the day. Shortly after noon, the SMM observed approximately 350 pedestrians waiting to enter government-controlled areas and almost no queue of civilians waiting to cross the bridge in the opposite direction at the government-controlled checkpoint north of the bridge.

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 on 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 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed three anti-aircraft missile systems (9K35 Strela-10, 120mm) near government-controlled Rubizhne (85km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles and an anti-aircraft weapon in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw four APCs (three BTR-60 and one BTR-4) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), eight APCs (BTR-70) and one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) mounted on a military truck near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), one armoured combat vehicle mounted with two grenade launchers and a machine-gun near Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk) and one IFV (BMP-2) near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to observe the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO). In Shyrokyne, the SMM observed numerous pieces of UXO stuck in streets throughout the village, including near a school. The UXO seemed to have been present in the area for various periods of time and the SMM assessed that most of them were 82 and 120mm mortar rounds fired from a variety of directions.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure and demining works. In “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM facilitated and observed repair work on electricity pylons as well as demining work in the area. In government-controlled Shchastia, the SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable the removal of UXO between a thermal power plant and the Siverskyi Donets river.

The SMM monitored two areas alongside the border with the Russian Federation outside government control. At the “LPR”-controlled border crossing point in Dovzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 24 commercial trucks (three with Russian licence plates). Coal was observed in one of the trucks while most of the others were covered. In addition, six trucks were parked on the side of the road by the border crossing point facing the border, two of which were uncovered, loaded with wooden poles. The SMM observed four full passenger buses with Ukrainian license plates and 25 civilian vehicles (five with Russian licence plates) queuing to exit Ukraine, in addition to 29 civilian vehicles (four with Russian licence plates) parked in the area. At the “LPR”-controlled Novoborovytsi (79km south of Luhansk) pedestrian border crossing point, the SMM observed two women leaving Ukraine over a ten-minute period.

An SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed near government-controlled Stepanivka (54km north of Donetsk) as it was travelling back to its launch site from areas not controlled by the Government. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

The SMM monitored two public gatherings calling for the protection of the rights of participants and veterans of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO). In Ternopil (94km north-east of Ivano-Frankivsk), the SMM observed a protest of approximately 40 family members (mostly middle-aged women) of ATO participants in front of the regional state administration building. The protestors claimed that their relatives’ service contracts were unclear regarding the prolongation of service and vacation days and demanded the demobilisation of their family members. In Odessa, the SMM observed 25 people (mainly men, 18-45 years of age) outside of the regional state administration building calling for the recognition of members of volunteer battalions as official ATO veterans. According to a staff member of the regional state administration, approximately 25 protestors in camouflage uniforms had smashed the glass in one of the main entrance doors and entered the building. The SMM observed broken glass near the building. Eight police officers and a bus with approximately 15 additional law enforcement officials were present at the scene. The protestors were present throughout the afternoon and stayed until the end of the session of the regional council. A staff member of the regional state administration later told the SMM that a commission would examine the protestor’s demands and refer the issues to the council for a vote.

**_

*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 Dubove (formerly Komsomolskyi; 56km south-east of Luhansk), the “mayor” asked the SMM not to speak with any residents unless the Mission had written permission from “LPR” to do so. He also said that he had strict orders not to speak with the SMM without permission.
  • On 16 June, an armed man at a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Olenivka (23km south-west of Donetsk) told the SMM that the road to “DPR-controlled Dokuchaievsk was closed and did not allow the SMM to pass.

Other impediments:

  • The global position system of an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was jammed while flying near “DPR”-controlled Horlivka

[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. 

Contacts:

Alexandra Taylor 
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
mobile: +380 67 650 31 57
alexandra.taylor@osce.org

Iryna Gudyma 
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
mobile: +38 067 4021716
Iryna.Gudyma@osce.org