Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 3 March 2016

Situation Report
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This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM observed an increase in ceasefire violations in Donetsk from the previous day and continued to observe a stable situation in Luhansk. It continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons; some of them were observed in violation of the withdrawal lines. The Mission facilitated and monitored demining and repair work on both sides of the contact line and monitored the simultaneous release of detainees. The SMM encountered freedom-of-movement restrictions.

The SMM observed numerous ceasefire violations on the evening of 2 March in Donetsk regioN [1]. Whilst in Donetsk city the SMM heard 106 undetermined explosions and two salvos of multiple-launch rocket systems at a location 10-15km west-south-west of its position and 19 undetermined explosions north-north-west.

The SMM also heard numerous ceasefire violations in the Horlivka area during the evening hours of 2 March. Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard over 40 mortar impacts (82mm) 6km to the west. During the same time period – positioned in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) – it heard 61 automatic grenade launcher blasts, five mortar impacts (82mm) and more than 80 heavy-machine-gun bursts 3-6km to the south-east. Intermittent exchange of fire continued to be heard until 02:30 on 3 March, 10-13km north-east of the SMM’s position in Horlivka.

Beginning from approximately 08:00hrs [2] on 3 March through the early afternoon, the SMM heard a number of ceasefire violations in locations stretching from the south-west to the north-east along the western outskirts of Donetsk city, from government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) to “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk). In total, the SMM heard at least 85 undetermined explosions, 25 impacts from automatic grenade launchers, and numerous bursts from heavy machine-guns and small arms at points ranging from less than 1km to 10km in all directions from positions along this line. The next day, while positioned in Svitlodarsk, the SMM heard 18-20 mortar impacts and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms exchange of fire 2-4km to the south-east.

The SMM noted numerous ceasefire violations throughout the morning of 3 March at locations east and north-east of Mariupol. From near government-controlled Lebedynske, (16km north-east of Mariupol) stretching north along the line of contact to government-controlled Vasylivka (54km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard ceasefire violations ranging from the north-east to the south of their positions. Near Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed an intense exchange of mortar, heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire between 10:00 and 11:22hrs. During the same time period, whilst near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 35 mortar detonations and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 7-8km south-south-east of its position.

In Luhansk region, the SMM heard a total of 15-16 undetermined explosions: two of which occurred 10km east-north-east of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and approximately 8-10km to the west-south-west of Zolote. Other ceasefire violations were assessed as live-fire exercises near government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk).

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites and noted that eight tanks (seven T-72 and one T-64), and nine mortars (six 2B9 Vasilek, 82mm and three 2B11 Sani, 120mm) were missing (as previously noted).

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, on 29 February, aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence of what is assessed to be two tanks near Marinka. On 3 March, near government-controlled Kremenivka (80km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed 15 towed howitzers (D20, 152 mm).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed 20 tanks (T-64) stationary at a training area near “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km 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 observed 18 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm); five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) were missing and 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) that had been previously recorded as missing were found present at a different heavy weapons holding area. The SMM also observed that two such areas were still abandoned with a total of six Addendum-regulated mortars (2S12, 120mm) missing.

The SMM also observed the presence of other hardware. Near government-controlled Karlivka (25km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a military convoy of 13 infantry fighting vehicles (11 BMP-2 and two BMD-2), and two military trucks parked facing in a westerly direction. In the area of government-controlled Umanske (23km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM observed a military convoy of 12 BMP-2, two BMP-1, two military trucks, and two MTLB facing south. Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM, on 29 February, revealed the presence of six armoured vehicles near Marinka. In “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (12km west of Donetsk), the SMM observed one armoured personnel carrier (MTLB) and one military-style URAL truck mounted with a heavy-machine-gun (23 or 37mm).

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. While observing repair work to electrical and water pipe lines near government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard one impact from a rocket propelled grenade 1.5km east of its position and left the area for approximately one hour. At 11:56hrs the SMM heard another explosion which a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) described as the controlled detonation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk). The SMM also continued to monitor the repair of gas pipelines between Marinka and government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) which continued despite ceasefire violations 2-7km north-east of the SMM’s position in Marinka. In a government-controlled area of Zolote, the SMM observed the presence of a ten-person demining team near an area where repair work to 600m of water pipeline leading to “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk) was being prepared. In “LPR”-controlled Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), the SMM monitored repair work to high-voltage electricity pylons.

The SMM monitored the simultaneous release of detainees near government-controlled Shchastia (20km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM observed as “LPR” members released one woman (approximately 30 years old) and Ukrainian authorities, including Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel, released one woman and one man (both in their twenties). All of whom were allowed to cross Shchastia bridge.

The SMM continued to observe the presence of mines and UXO and noted obstacles for civilians in crossing checkpoints along the contact line. At a government-controlled checkpoint near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed that the flow of traffic at the bridge seemed to have improved slightly from previous days, with approximately 100 people waiting to travel toward government-controlled areas and approximately an equal number were waiting to pass in the opposite direction. Interlocutors stated that the wait time was approximately one to two hours. The SMM observed two hand-written mine warning signs, for the first time, between 3 and 30m off of a road in “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk). At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint in the vicinity of Yasynuvata, the SMM observed two anti-tank mines (also for the first time) on a road. Armed men physically moved the mines to enable the SMM to pass. In a government-controlled area near Zolote, where pedestrians frequently cross the contact line, the SMM noted that a previously observed mine warning sign had been removed.

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

A Ukrainian Armed Forces commander told the SMM that it could not pass a checkpoint near government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol), citing heavy fighting in the area. Conditional access:

In government-controlled Hranitne (47km north-east of Mariupol), Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel insisted on escorting the SMM while it observed a temporary metal bridge. ​At the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, armed men insisted on photographing identification documents of SMM monitors. [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.

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