Ukraine

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 22 February 2016

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The SMM observed a large number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region. The situation remained relatively calm in Luhansk region. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons. The SMM encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions. The SMM observed commemorative events for the victims of violence in Odessa and Kharkiv. The SMM observed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints near Marinka were open. The Mission monitors observed damage to a television station in Kyiv. The SMM confirmed that an NGO activist held by the “DPR” had been released*.

The SMM observed a total of 794 ceasefire violations in Donetsk region, considerably higher than on previous days.[1] Of note, positioned in city-centre Donetsk between 16:00 and 07:00hrs on 21/22 February, the SMM recorded 312 undetermined explosions 7-10km to the west and north-west. On 22 February, positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) between 08:40 and 15:05hrs[2], the SMM heard 36 undetermined explosions and two bursts of small-arms fire 3-8km to the north, north-north-east, north-west and north-north-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) between 08:40 and 13:45hrs, the SMM heard 158 explosions (140 impacts and 18 blasts) caused by, among other weapons, mortars, automatic-grenade launchers, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, plus an additional six undetermined explosions, and at least 155 bursts of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire and fire from infantry fighting vehicles, from locations 0.5-7km south-west, west-south-west and north-north-west of its position.

Positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) between 17:14 and 22:30hrs on 21 February, the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions and 13 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 8-12km to the south-west and south-east.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) between 19:10 and 20:36hrs on 21 February, the SMM heard 21 undetermined explosions, numerous heavy-machine-gun bursts and sporadic small-arms fire 10-15km to the north and west.

The situation remained relatively calm in Luhansk region. Positioned at an “LPR” checkpoint south of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) between 09:36 and 11:42hrs, the SMM did, however, hear what it assessed as 12 training-related explosions approximately 20km to the south-west.

Near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a fresh crater, assessed as having been caused by a small-calibre grenade, next to a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint. Personnel present told the SMM that the checkpoint had come under automatic-grenade-launcher fire from the south at approximately 19:00hrs on 20 February. The SMM observed shrapnel traces around the crater indicating the grenade had been fired from the south.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site and observed that ten tanks (T-64, 125mm) previously verified as withdrawn to the site were missing.

Beyond the withdrawal lines – but outside storage sites – the SMM observed the following Addendum-regulated weapons: one tank (T-64, 125mm) near government-controlled Kurakhove (40km west of Donetsk); and, six tanks (T-72, 125mm) near “DPR”-controlled Huselshchykove (41km north-east of Mariupol).

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.

In areas controlled by the Government, in violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed the following: 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) in what Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel had previously said was a heavy weapons holding area; two SA-8 tactical surface-to-air missile launchers (9K33, Osa, 210mm), one close to government controlled Zhelanne Druhe (29km north-west of Donetsk) and another near government-controlled Dmytrivka (43km north of Luhansk); and, an SA-13 surface-to-air anti-aircraft system (9K35 Strela-10) near government-controlled Prychepylivka (49km north-west of Luhansk).

In areas not controlled by the Government, in violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed the following: four howitzers (D-30, 122mm) in Luhansk city, moved there, according to the “LPR”, from an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site. The weapons, the “LPR” told the SMM, will be included in a military parade in Luhansk city on 23 February.

The SMM revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and noted that four howitzers (D-30, 122mm) were missing.

The SMM monitored the security and humanitarian situation near the contact line. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed 200 people waiting to travel toward the “LPR”-controlled side of the river, and approximately 500 people waiting to go the opposite direction. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that such high numbers were a result of the closure of checkpoints at crossing routes in Donetsk region. The SMM spoke to a number of people waiting in line who said they were from Donetsk region. The SMM noted that Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) were open. At one checkpoint, the SMM at 08:15hrs observed 143 civilian vehicles and six buses in a west-bound queue, and 43 civilian pedestrians standing in a queue waiting to have their identification documents examined, also going west. Four civilian vehicles were stationary, facing eastwards, at the same checkpoint. At 8:25hrs at a nearby checkpoint, the SMM observed 83 civilian vehicles and two buses, and approximately 75 pedestrians, moving west. Twenty-eight civilian vehicles and two busses were east-bound. At approximately 12:30hrs, the SMM observed no civilian movement through the same checkpoints.

The SMM observed damage to the premises of Channel 17 television station in Kyiv, noting in particular damaged door frames and locks, and destroyed cables in the server room. The general producer told the SMM that 15 people had caused the damage the previous night, and had also stolen some items and beaten a security guard. He said police had subsequently arrested a number of individuals carrying weapons, drugs and some of the stolen items. A police spokesperson subsequently confirmed to the SMM that one man had been arrested in relation to the incident. In a search of the man’s car, the spokesperson said some of the stolen items had been recovered and two weapons with rubber bullets found.

The SMM observed commemorative events. On 21 February, the Mission monitors observed 55 mostly middle-aged people in Odessa, commemorating the Trade Union building fire victims of 2 May 2014. Approximately 20 National Guard soldiers formed a cordon, ensuring there was no contact between them and 30 young male pro-Maidan activists. The event passed off peacefully. The following day in Kharkiv, the SMM monitored a commemorative event for the 22 February 2015 bomb blast in the city in which four participants of a pro-Maidan march died. The SMM observed approximately 200 men and 100 women of different ages, many waving Ukrainian flags as well as flags from several volunteer organizations. Approximately 200 police officers provided security.

Following up on media reports, the SMM spoke by phone to the mother of the co-ordinator of the Donetsk-based Responsible Citizens of Donbas non-governmental organization. She confirmed that her daughter had been released – having been held by the “DPR” for over three weeks – and was currently in areas controlled by the Government.

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

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfillment 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:

In government-controlled Starohnativka (53km north-east of Mariupol), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel prevented the SMM from moving closer to the contact line, saying there was a risk of rocket and sniper fire.

In “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol), armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from accessing a settlement located west of the village.

East of Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM was unable to proceed because of an improvised road block.

Near the government-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel refused to allow the SMM to proceed towards a nearby Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint. Conditional access:

At a “DPR” checkpoint in the vicinity of Marinka, armed “DPR” members insisted on searching the trunks of SMM patrol vehicles.

Close to an “LPR” checkpoint south of Stanytsia Luhanska, armed “LPR” members insisted on seeing the SMM’s patrol plan.

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

[2] All times in this report are in Eastern European Time

Contacts

Iuliia Poberezhna
National Media Analyst
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
Mobile: +380 67 467 75 65
iuliia.poberezhna@osce.org
smm-press@osce.org

Iryna Gudyma
Senior Press Assistant
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
Mobile: +38 067 4021716
Iryna.Gudyma@osce.org