This report is for the media and general 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.* Fighting intensified around Donetsk airport and Shyrokyne. The SMM observed military movements on both sides of the contact line.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol, 102km south of Donetsk). It observed sporadic fighting throughout the day and hostilities intensifying at around 18:00hrs. The SMM observed a general engagement on the western side of the village, including tank fire, mortar shelling, small arms and machine gun fire, which occurred across a 2.5km front, from one kilometre north of the E58 highway to the Sea of Azov, both sides exchanging mortar rounds from multiple positions.
Following a relatively quiet night and morning, the fighting in the villages around Donetsk airport increased again in intensity in the evening hours. The SMM counted a large number of instances of heavy weapons use, including mortars, artillery and tank fire. The exchange continued into the evening.
On 19 and 20 April, the SMM travelled unescorted through Novoazovsk (“DPR”-controlled, 43km east of Mariupol) to the international border crossing point between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. At the border, it observed normal daily traffic. While visiting the local hospital in Novoazovsk, the SMM noted a poster informing the population about a curfew imposed between 23:00 and 05:00hrs, which was introduced in Novoazovsk area on 14 April.
The Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at their Avdiivka observation post informed the SMM that at approximately 11:00hrs three 82mm mortar rounds landed in the residential area of Avdiivka (government-controlled, 14km north-north-west of Donetsk) resulting in a civilian casualty. The SMM visited the local hospital and was able to briefly speak to the woman who was injured and was being transferred to the trauma department in the hospital in Dymytrov (government-controlled, 52km north-west of Donetsk) for further treatment. The SMM then visited the impact site in Avdiivka and saw a crater degraded by the weather conditions.
The SMM monitored Luhanske and Myronivskyi (both government-controlled, 58km and 61km north-north-east of Donetsk respectively). In Luhanske, a local resident said to the SMM that explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) activities are still being carried out and the commander of the checkpoint located on the northern outskirt of Luhanske said that the situation was calm. In Myronivskyi the SMM was also informed of ongoing EOD activities.
At the JCCC observation post in Vesela Hora (“LPR”-controlled, 16km north of Luhansk) the “LPR” members of the JCCC informed the SMM that the last shelling occurred on 18 April from the area of Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk) from an automatic grenade launcher, with at least 100 grenades launched and some impacting close to residential areas of Vesela Hora. Several local residents said to the SMM that their houses had been shelled. The SMM observed five damaged buildings in the village and what it assessed to be ten small (approximately 30cm diameter) impact sites but could not establish the direction of fire.
The SMM met the female “secretary” of the village council of Malomykolaivka (“Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled, 36km south-west of Luhansk) who said that Unexploded Ordinance (UXOs) had been disposed of by “LPR” members and that the village received humanitarian aid and was mostly self-sufficient. Residents said to the SMM that they received pensions from the “LPR” in April.
The SMM met the Luhansk region’s deputy chief prosecutor in Sievierodonetsk (government-controlled, 74km north-west of Luhansk). The deputy said to the SMM that, with regards to the relocated courts, only a few case files had been transferred from “LPR” controlled territories. He explained that the law provided the prosecutors with the powers to reconstruct case files but the lack of evidence and witnesses from areas not controlled by the government were major obstacles.
In Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM monitored the situation at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint and the partially destroyed bridge where it observed hundreds of men and women crossing in both directions, generally with large luggage. While the SMM observed a smooth and orderly process and no waiting line at the checkpoint on this occasion, a number of local residents told the SMM about what they perceived as arbitrary policies often being applied at the checkpoint, and that not all permit holders were allowed to pass at all times. UXO and landmines remain a concern. The head of the village council in Toshkivka (government-controlled, 60km north-west of Luhansk) said to the SMM that villagers do not access the nearby forests due to the presence of mines and UXO. The “deputy head” of the “village council” in Biloskeliuvate (“LPR”-controlled, 27km south-east of Luhansk) said to the SMM that the “LPR” EOD teams had removed the majority of UXO in the area but that only 60 per cent of the agricultural fields have been cultivated. The SMM observed eight UXOs north-west in the vicinity of Biloskeliuvate in the fields as well as two unexploded SMERCH and six unexploded Grad rockets near the roadway.
The SMM observed activities assessed to be fortification works in several government-controlled locations. In the area of Novookhtyrka and Kapitanove (52 and 50km north-west of Luhansk respectively) the SMM saw that trenches had been dug, large holes excavated and wooden poles delivered on the roadside. The SMM also observed fortification works near Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk) and Putylyne (44km south of Luhansk).
Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was completed, the SMM continued to observe the presence of heavy weapons inside the exclusion zone. On 20 April, in “DPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed two tanks (T-64) and anti-tank guided rocket system (AT-4 Spigot, 120mm). In “LPR”-controlled areas the SMM observed the same heavy weapons present as the day before (see SMM Daily Report 20 April, 2015 at http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/152151). On 19 and 20 April, the SMM observed three stationary tanks (T64) in government-controlled areas.
On 18 April, the SMM visited two sites in Kharkiv city where two statues of Lenin had reportedly been toppled during the previous night. The first site was at the airspace university where the SMM observed the presence of security personnel at all entrances and the second site was at the polytechnic university. In both cases the SMM observed that the statues had been toppled and representatives of the Ministry of Interior confirmed the incidents which they said occurred at around 23:00 and 24:00hrs the previous evening. The cases are under investigation by the police on charges of hooliganism.
Speaking to the press on 17 April, the governor of Kharkiv explained that fortifications being built around the city were funded through private contributions and that works were to be completed by 1 May. The SMM observed a line of construction being built around Kharkiv city including a fortification at the city’s northern entrance, located on the highway leading to the Russian Federation border. The SMM also observed one completed tank trench and also observed that construction was underway for additional tank trenches, concrete protection and strengthening the existing trenches.
The SMM met the Dnepropetrovsk regional military commissar, who explained that the targets of the current mobilization in the region wave were fully met with 5,000 new recruits having been mobilized. He stressed the need to ensure that sufficient capacity was in place to meet their needs once they are demobilized and return to their families. According to him, some 3,800 people have recently been demobilized and further 12,000 people were expected to be demobilized and return to the region by September 2015 and will need psychological and reintegration support as well as social protection mechanisms.
On 17 April, the SMM monitored a march in Odessa city, organised by the Svoboda party, commemorating the sixth anniversary of the murder of Maxim Chaika, leader of the nationalist non-governmental organization Glory and Honour (Slava i Chest). Approximately 300 participants attended, including representatives of the “civilian segment of Azov volunteer battalion”. The SMM observed “White Pride” symbols and flags and heard nationalist and racially charged slogans intoned by the participants. Some 500 police officers were present at the event, which ended peacefully.
The SMM observed a press conference in Kyiv regarding the rights of the families of deceased military personnel, which was organized by activists, a member of Parliament from the Batkivshchyna Party and families of deceased soldiers. They stated that the Ministry of Defence official figure is of only 1,750 soldiers having lost their lives to date and stressed the need to simplify procedures in order to reduce some delays and bureaucracy involved in the authorities meeting their financial and social responsibilities towards the families of fallen soldiers.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi and Lviv.
- 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.
• On 19 April, the SMM was stopped and delayed for about ten minutes at Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints in Raihorodka, Kriakivka and Orikhove Donetske (government-controlled, 34, 37 and 44km north-west of Luhansk respectively) and was not allowed to pass the checkpoint until the checkpoint personnel received their commanders’ permission to let the SMM through. • On 20 April, near Pionerske (“LPR”-controlled, 19km east of Luhansk) the SMM was stopped for 15 minutes and not allowed by “LPR” members at a checkpoint to enter the village. The SMM was told that it would have to request a special pass and present a map in which the SMM would specify the exact locations to be visited, the route they intended to take and the objectives of the visit. The SMM showed the documents guaranteeing freedom of movement but were not permitted to continue and returned to Luhansk. • On 20 April, the SMM was held for 45 minutes at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the entrance to Novoaidar (government-controlled, 49km north-west of Luhansk). The checkpoint personnel checked the SMM identification cards and asked for the nationalities of the patrol members. Once all details were logged, the SMM was allowed to pass. • On 20 April, at Makarove checkpoint (government-controlled, 19km north-east of Luhansk) a Ukrainian Border Guard officer checked the SMM ID cards and asked for the nationalities of the patrol members. The SMM was allowed to pass after five minutes. • On 20 April, in Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16 km north-east of Luhansk) towards the Ukrainian end of the bridge an “LPR” member approached two SMM members, asked for their documents and photographed their OSCE ID cards. • On 20 April, the SMM attempted to visit Donetsk airport, but was stopped at the checkpoint on Stratonovtov Street, 500m south of the destroyed new terminal, by “DPR” members. The SMM was not allowed to proceed through the checkpoint due to security reasons.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the linked attachment.
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/152466
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