Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 16 February 2016

Situation Report
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This report is for media and the general public

The SMM observed a significant increase in ceasefire violations from previous days, both in Donetsk and Luhansk region. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, facilitated and monitored demining and repair works and continued to monitor the humanitarian situation on both sides of the contact line. The SMM encountered one freedom-of-movement restriction.* The Mission observed protests in other parts of Ukraine calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister.

The SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.[1] From the evening of 15 February to the early morning of 16 February, based in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions, 7-10km west-north-west of its position. During the day on 16 February, while positioned at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 6km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard 159 undetermined explosions in directions ranging from north-west to north-north-east. Within the same range of directions, the SMM heard 37 bursts and 127 single shots caused by small-arms fire at a distance of 3-7km. While in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north of Donetsk), between 12:35 and 13:05hrs[2], the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions and nine bursts of small-arms fire 3–7km south-west of its position.

In the area of Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk), on the evening of 15 February, positioned in Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard at least 310 undetermined explosions caused by mortar (unknown calibre) at a distance of 5-12km west-south-west and south-south-west. In Horlivka, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions caused by mortar (120mm) approximately 10km north between 22:12 and 22:30hrs. The next morning in Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 12 mortar round (undetermined calibre) impacts 5km west-south-west of its position. In Zaitseve itself, the SMM observed fresh craters and damage to residential buildings. According to some residents and Ukrainian Armed Forces personell, the village came under heavy mortar and artillery fire the day before. In Debaltseve (“DPR”-controlled, 58km north-east of Donetsk), between 13:51 and 14:04hrs, the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions at least 5km west-north-west of its position.

In areas east and north-east of Mariupol (102km south of Donetsk), the SMM recorded numerous ceasefire violations. Between approximately 17:00 and 18:00hrs, the SMM camera positioned on the south-western edge of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded intense fighting in Shyrokyne. Fire from various weapons was recorded, both incoming to and outgoing from the village itself. In addition, it recorded six explosions between Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol) and Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol). The camera also recorded a house burning in Shyrokyne. Earlier in the day, positioned approximately 15km east of Mariupol, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions, one burst and several shots at an undetermined distance north-north-east.

In western Luhansk region, the SMM recorded a number of ceasefire violations, including in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk), where the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions 6km to the north-west. In the morning and early afternoon, near the government-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM also heard 24 undetermined explosions occurring at locations approximately 5-15km ranging from west to south-west.

Other ceasefire violations noted by the SMM while positioned near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km south-east of Luhansk), “LPR”-controlled Komyshuvakha (25km south-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Lenina (19km south-west of Luhansk) were assessed as live-fire training exercises.

In government-controlled Marinka (23km west-south-west of Donetsk), the SMM conducted crater analysis at a house where it found three impacts on the house and one just outside of the house, as well as rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-7) fragments. The SMM assessed that three of the rockets had been fired from a north-north-easterly direction. Less than 100m north-east of the house, the SMM observed what appeared to be a military observation post.

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

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: 37 tanks near training sites in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Myrne (41km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as 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 found six anti-tank guns (MT-12), 28 towed anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), 16 mortars (13 2B11, 120mm and three PM38), 18 towed howitzers (2A65, 152mm), and nine Addendum-regulated tanks (T-72, 125mm); all of which had been previously observed. At one area, the SMM observed three artillery pieces (D-48, 85mmMM) not previously recorded there. The SMM also noted two anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) missing for the first time.

In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such holding areas and found 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and two towed anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) which had previously been observed. Three self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) previously noted as missing were still absent.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed the following heavy weapons: 12 towed howitzers (D30, 122mm) near training sites in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM observed the presence of other hardware. Near government-controlled Plotyna (28km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed an armoured personnel carrier (BRMD) and eight armoured infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1). In the area of government-controlled Marinka, the SMM observed one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23/2) mounted on a truck as well as one URAL military truck parked between houses on the edge of the town.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation affecting the civilian population near the contact line. The chief doctor and senior nurse of a hospital in Svitlodarsk told the SMM that there was a shortage of flu and pneumonia vaccines, which were still needed despite the number of patients suffering from flu having dropped recently. They also said that there is a shortage of rabies vaccine and that every week two-three residents are bitten by infected dogs.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs of essential infrastructure. The SMM facilitated repair works to high-voltage pylons along the contact line near “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (34km north-west of Luhansk), as well as to water pipes in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM also facilitated on-going repair work to water infrastructure in government-controlled areas near Zolote.

The SMM visited border crossing points in areas not controlled by the Government. In “LPR”-controlled Dolzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk), a queue of 15 cars and two civilian trucks, mainly with Ukrainian licence plates, were waiting to pass into the Russian Federation. The SMM also visited “LPR”-controlled Novoborovytsi (79km south of Luhansk) pedestrian border crossing point. Neither “LPR” personnel nor pedestrians were present there.

The SMM noted long queues at checkpoints along the contact line. At “DPR”-controlled checkpoints near Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM noted 116 civilian cars queuing to travel in the direction of government-controlled areas. Near Marinka, the SMM observed up to 443 vehicles, eight buses, and approximately 180 pedestrians queuing to enter government-controlled areas while in the early afternoon up to 223 vehicles and one bus were queuing to travel in the opposite direction. At a “DPR” checkpoint in the vicinity of Olenivka (“DPR”-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a total of 250 civilian vehicles and one bus queuing to proceed into government-controlled areas, while 23 civilian vehicles and one bus were observed queuing to travel towards “DPR”-controlled areas. Travellers told the SMM that they had been waiting in the queue for six-seven hours. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint north of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) bridge, the SMM observed queues of approximately 300 people waiting to travel to and from “LPR”-controlled areas. There were no queues on the opposite side in “LPR”-controlled areas where pedestrians quickly passed both ways through the checkpoint.

On 16 February, the SMM monitored a series of public gatherings in several cities, calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister. In Lviv, Odessa Dnepropetrovsk, and Kharkiv approximately 215 demonstrators (different age groups, majority men), mainly supporters of Svoboda Party, demonstrated in front of the Regional State Administration buildings. Small contingents of 8-15 law enforcement officials were present at the protests. In Kyiv, the SMM observed up to 900 protestors (different age groups, 70% men) in front of the Parliament in the morning and approximately 1,500 people later in the afternoon. The demonstrators, many from Svoboda Party, called for an end to alleged corruption and for the resignation of the Prime Minister. Approximately 2,000 law enforcement officials were present in the area. Inside the Parliament, the SMM observed as 247 Members of Parliament voted to express their dissatisfaction with the report of the Government which had been submitted by the Prime Minister. A subsequent no-confidence vote of the Prime Minister failed, as only 194 Parliamentarians voted for it (226 were needed for the vote to be adopted).

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, and Chernivtsi.

Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including mine threats, damaged infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the situation in Donbas. “LPR” members continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring many areas alongside the border in parts of Luhansk region not controlled by the Government.

Denial of access:

  • “DPR” members at a checkpoint at the western entrance to “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol) demanded that the SMM provide written permission to proceed. The SMM contacted the JCCC and asked them to intervene. After 20 minutes, the SMM turned back.

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

[2] All times in this report refer to Eastern European times.

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Iuliia Poberezhna
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Iryna Gudyma
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mobile: +38 067 4021716