Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 2 March 2016

Situation Report
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Decisions on mine action and on the prohibition of live-fire exercises were endorsed by the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk. The SMM observed ceasefire violations in numerous areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Mission observed a number of weapons outside storage sites – some of them in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and followed up on reports of mine-related fatalities. It facilitated and monitored repair works on both sides of the contact line. The SMM observed an anti-Maidan demonstration in Odessa.

In Minsk, the SMM Chief Monitor, in his capacity as the co-ordinator of the Trilateral Contact Group’s Working Group on Security Issues, facilitated the decisions reached on 2 March on mine action and on the prohibition of live-fire exercises within the security zone.

The SMM observed ceasefire violations in a number of areas of Donetsk region [1]. While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city during the evening of 1 March, between 17:52 and 23:46hrs [2], the SMM heard 19 undetermined explosions, all at locations 5-10km north-west of the SMM’s position.

While at the “DPR”-controlled central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk), between 07:25 and 14:30hrs on March, the SMM heard 58 undetermined explosions, 48 explosions assessed as 120mm mortar fire, cannon fire, bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all in areas 2-7km ranging from the west to the north-north-east.

In “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), while stationary between 09:54 and 14:50hrs on 2 March, the SMM heard 59 undetermined explosions and several bursts and shots of automatic cannon, heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire at locations 3-10km away ranging north to west.

In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) during the evening of 1 March, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions approximately 10km west of its position. In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), between 18:02 and 20:56hrs on 1 March, the SMM heard one incoming mortar (82mm) round, two outgoing mortar (82mm) rounds, 89 semi-automatic gun (73mm) rounds, 37 outgoing rounds from an infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-1), and more than 120 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all approximately 3km away south-east of the SMM’s position.

In “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard, between 14:00 and 14:06hrs, approximately 40 undetermined rounds assessed as multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) fire 5-10km west of its position.

While at a “DPR” checkpoint on the western side of Kominternove (23km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions and multiple bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded a number of ceasefire violations. In “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 5-10km south-west of its position. While in “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four undetermined explosions more than 8km west-south-west of its position. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four undetermined explosions more than 10km south of its position. Dozens of ceasefire violations were attributed to live-fire exercises in “LPR”-controlled Myrne and Kruhlyk (28 and 31km south-west of Luhansk, respectively) and government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk).

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and observed all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to those sites were present.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed a total of 29 tanks - 27 of which were positioned at a firing range - near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk and two tanks (T-72) on trucks in the area of government-controlled Krasnoarmiisk (55km north-west of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. At an “LPR” permanent weapons storage site the SMM observed that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.

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: 42 howitzers (18 2A65, 152mm; 18 2A36, 152mm; six D-30, 122mm); 29 self-propelled howitzers (17 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm, and 12 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm); 18 Addendum-regulated mortars (2B11, 120mm); 21 Addendum-regulated tanks (T-64), one of which had a serial number matching that of a tank observed as missing from a permanent storage site on 1 March; 24 towed anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm); two Addendum-regulated automatic mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm). The following weapons were missing: three anti-tank guns (2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm); 19 self-propelled howitzers (15 2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm, and four 2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm; nine Addendum-regulated mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm); four self-propelled air-defence vehicles (9K35, SA-10 Strela, 120mm). Three sites were observed to be abandoned.

In violation of the withdrawal lines, the SMM observed an air-defence system (9K33 Osa, 209mm) near government-controlled Plotyna (28km north-east of Luhansk). Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of one possible multiple launch rocket system (with a missile rack) near government-controlled Ivanivka (59km south-west of Donetsk).

Beyond withdrawal lines and outside storage sites the SMM observed two towed anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) near government-controlled Kremenivka (80km south-west of Donetsk).

The SMM observed the presence of other hardware within the security zone: an armoured combat vehicle (BMP-2) and an armoured vehicle (MT-LB) in “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka; four BMP-2-type vehicles heading west near government-controlled Kriakivka (37km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM spoke with a Ukrainian Armed Forces commander following the reported deaths of three soldiers when their vehicle struck a mine near government-controlled Myrna Dolyna (67km north-west of Luhansk). The commander said that one vehicle from a convoy had slid off the road and detonated an anti-tank mine (TM-64), killing three and injuring two soldiers. According to the commander, the area had been mined over a year ago by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the mines were covered with grass. He said that demining had taken place as a result of the accident. The SMM was unable to reach the scene due to security concerns, but observed the Ukrainian Armed Forces placing mine warning signs in the area. On the road between Kominternove and Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol) the SMM observed at least six newly-placed anti-tank mines, hidden under bushes that blocked the road 100m from a downed concrete electricity pole (see SMM Daily Report, 25 February 2016)*.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. In conjunction with Ukrainian and Russian Federation Armed Forces Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) representatives the SMM monitored gas pipeline repair work in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and nearby “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka. The SMM heard exchanges of fire between Marinka and Oleksandrivka, following which the Ukrainian Armed Forces officer requested that workers withdraw. By 12:45hrs, JCCC representatives had arranged a ceasefire and repair workers returned to the site. At 13:35hrs an intensive exchange erupted on the eastern edge of Marinka, forcing workers to leave after installing 40m of gas pipeline. Similarly, repair work to water pipes by Voda Donbassa workers in an area between the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) and a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint (38km north-east of Donetsk) was cancelled when ten undetermined artillery explosions were heard 7km south-east. In an area south of government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed workers from the “Luhansk Electricity Company Network” repairing high-voltage pylons.

At Kulykove Pole in Odessa, the SMM spoke to representatives of Odessa Maidan Self-Defence and Azov Civil Corps. Representatives of the Odessa Maidan Self-Defence told the SMM that they had co-ordinated with the head of the organization “Mothers of 2 May” to ensure that a planned anti-Maidan event would take place peacefully between 17:00-18:00hrs on 2 March. At Kulykove Pole members of the Azov Civil Corps told the SMM that they disagreed with making agreements with “separatists”. At 17:00hrs, the SMM returned to Kulykove Pole and observed 100 anti-Maidan activists (mostly women aged between 50-70 years old), including representatives of the “Mothers of 2 May” and ten pro-Maidan activists (all men aged between 35-50 years old). No members of the Azov Civil Corps were observed at the site. Forty National Guard officers and 20 police officers formed a cordon around the anti-Maidan activists. The event passed off peacefully.

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

  • 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.

Denial of access:

  • An armed “LPR” member stopped the SMM on the approach to the bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), took pictures of SMM ID cards and asked to see the patrol plan. When the SMM declined to show the plan, the armed man denied access and told the SMM to leave the area.
  • At least six newly-placed anti-tank mines and a downed concrete electricity pole blocked the road between Kominternove and Vodiane.

Delayed access:

  • Armed “LPR” members delayed the SMM’s entry to an “LPR” permanent weapons storage site for 30 minutes. Access was eventually facilitated through the JCCC.
  • Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers delayed SMM entry to a heavy weapons holding area. The JCCC was informed and after 35 minutes the SMM was able to enter.

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

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

Iuliia Poberezhna
National Media Analyst
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Mobile: +380 67 467 75 65

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