Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 24 April 2015

Situation Report
Originally published

This Report is for the media and public

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*. The SMM discussed a demilitarization plan for Shyrokyne. The SMM held a round table involving pro and anti-Maidan activists in Odessa.

The village of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) and the area around Donetsk airport continue to be hot spots in the Donetsk Region[1] whereas in Luhansk region, the SMM observed no incidents involving the use of weapons. From an observation post located at Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, Donetsk city) the SMM heard from 11:00 until 17:50hrs a total of 139 incoming and outgoing mortar and artillery explosions as well as tank, heavy-machine gun and small-arms fire. This represents a sharp increase in comparison with the numbers reported on 24 April (see SMM Daily Report of 24 April 2015,

In Shyrokyne the SMM met with the two Ukrainian and Russian Generals from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) to discuss the SMM’s proposal to demilitarize Shyrokyne (see SMM Spot Report: SMM spearheads efforts for the cessation of hostilities in Shyrokyne, 17 April The Ukrainian and Russian Generals and the “DPR” members present on the spot agreed in principle to demilitarize Shyrokyne. The SMM, while in the village, heard outgoing and incoming fire for an extended period, most of which was outgoing small arms and 82mm mortar fire. A foot patrol was conducted by the SMM to evaluate the local humanitarian situation.

While at the observation post in government-controlled Berdianske (19km east of Mariupol and 1,5km west of Shyrokyne), the SMM was approached by engineers from the “Donbass” volunteer battalion who informed the SMM about a planned controlled detonation of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) found in the area. They requested the SMM to co-ordinate with the “DPR” members to avoid retaliation fire from the “DPR” side after these controlled detonations in the sensitive area of Shyrokyne.

The SMM discussed with the Ukrainian and Russian JCCC representatives in government-controlled Avdiivka (16km north of Donetsk) the incident in which two mortar shells exploded close to an SMM patrol on 23 April (see SMM Daily Report of 23 April 2015 Neither interlocutor believed that the SMM was targeted directly. Additionally, the Russian JCCC representative in Avdiivka stated that “DPR” forces might have been targeting with a poor line of sight the residential houses in Avdiivka Old town, as they believe Ukrainian military personnel live there.

In the Luhansk region, the freedom of movement of civilians remains an issue on the bridge in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report of 23 April 2015). Commuters told the SMM that until the SMM arrived, the Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers did not let anyone cross the bridge from the government-controlled side to the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled side. The SMM was also informed about the detention of a woman by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel. She was allegedly detained for two hours in a detention container after checkpoint personnel found a photo of a “Novorossia” symbol in her mobile phone. After a phone conversation between the SMM and the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint commander, in which the SMM asked about the reason for her detention, the woman was released. The SMM was able to speak to her and, according to her, the armed personnel at the checkpoint verbally abused her for her alleged support for the “LPR”. She showed to the SMM her national Ukrainian passport where she claimed the Ukrainian Armed Forces allegedly wrote “Slava LNR” (Glory to LPR) on the left side of the passport photo.

The SMM met the Zhotnevyi district “public prosecutor” of “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city. According to him, his office was working on the restitution of stolen cars to their actual owners. If the owner currently lives in government-controlled areas and cannot cross the contact line, the prosecutor said it was possible for relatives to retrieve the vehicle, provided that they have a letter of proxy from the owner. The prosecutor office is also co-operating with the Commendatura in cases of misconduct from “LPR” military personnel in public places.

In government-controlled Svatove (127km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM was told by the head of Svatove police that two cars stolen in the “LPR”-controlled area had been retrieved in Svatove and waited to be returned to their legitimate owners.

The SMM continues to observe the presence and movement of heavy weapons in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements, namely the SMM saw three stationary main battle tanks (MBT) T-64 in government controlled areas (already reported in SMM Daily Report of 23 and 24 April 2015). One stationary MBT T-72 was also spotted in “DPR”- controlled area.

The SMM Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team observed in the area east of Mariupol, six MBT on the “DPR”-controlled side as well as one MBT in government-controlled area. Moreover, several burning houses and one MBT were also observed in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol).

In Kharkiv, the SMM enquired with an interlocutor from the regional Ministry of Interior about the case of the burning of a vehicle belonging to an individual engaged in volunteer activities. This is the third similar incident reported in the region of Kharkiv during the week. (See SMM Daily Report of 23 April 2015)

The SMM facilitated a roundtable with activists from three groups from Kulykove Pole (“anti-Maidan”) and activists from three “pro-Maidan” groups in Odessa in order to reduce the risk of violence on the anniversary of the tragic events on 2 May 2014. The participants agreed that each side would hold its events at different locations within the city and that neither side would march to the other’s location. The two sides also agreed not to support any provocations, which might arise during the conduct of events. The SMM offered to provide a forum for future dialogue at the request of both sides.

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

  • Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines.

The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere. For this reason, the SMM requires security guarantees from the “DPR” and “LPR” which are not always provided.

The SMM was stopped and asked for IDs, nationalities and destination of the patrol members at a government-controlled checkpoint in Makarove (19km north-west of Luhansk). The armed checkpoint personnel also inspected the inside of the vehicle. The SMM was allowed to proceed after approximately 15 minutes. The SMM was stopped for 12 minutes at a checkpoint in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city by an armed man who searched one of the SMM vehicles. After the SMM suggested the checkpoint personnel clarify the issue with the “DPR” public relations service, the SMM was granted passage. The SMM was stopped at the Ukrainian armed forces checkpoint in government-controlled Karlivka (27km north-west of Donetsk) and was not allowed to continue. No reasons were given.

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

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