Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 23 April 2015

Situation Report
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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 were prevented from accessing part of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) by “Donetsk People’s Republic” members. The SMM revisited heavy weapons holding areas, and noted some weapons had been removed. Protests in Kyiv were monitored by the SMM.

Fighting continued in and around the village of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol, 102km south-east of Donetsk). From an observation point outside the village, the SMM heard outgoing tank fire, mortars and incoming grenades, as well as small arms fire exchange coming from the village. An SMM team in the village heard small arms and grenade launcher fire originating from the area. The SMM observed artillery rounds striking the area in or around government-controlled Lebedinske (6km west of Shyrokyne, 15km east of Mariupol) with black smoke seen rising above the village. From an observation post at “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR)”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of the city centre) the SMM heard heavy weapons use at Donetsk airport and areas adjacent to it (namely government-controlled Pisky, “DPR”-controlled Spartak and Zhabunki). Two of three instances of heavy weapons use heard by the SMM in Luhansk region were said respectively by Ukrainian Armed Forces and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) to be live firing exercises.

Two mortars impacted within 100 metres of an SMM position at an observation post in government-controlled Berdianske (1.5km west of Shyrokyne, 20km east of Mariupol). The SMM left the area and moved to another position. Earlier in the day, from the same observation point, the SMM estimated that one third of outgoing mortar shells from Shyrokyne did not detonate on impact. As a consequence, more unexploded ordnance (UXOs) is likely in the area around the village. In Shyrokyne, the SMM observed recent damage to houses and infrastructure caused in the last few days, and noticed additional UXOs throughout the village.

The SMM analysed a recent crater in Shyrokyne next to an inhabited house and assessed that it was the result of 82mm mortar shell fire incoming from the west. “DPR” members denied the SMM access to the eastern part of the village.* As the SMM was leaving Shyrokyne on the highway north of the village, driving west, a car carrying “DPR” members tailed the SMM convoy, and using the SMM as cover, drove off towards the east. The incidents were condemned by the SMM Deputy Chief Monitor on social media.

In government-controlled Avdiivka (16km north of Donetsk), two mortar shells (82mm) exploded 30 metres from an SMM team monitoring the Ukrainian Armed Forces conducting crater analysis on a shelling incident that occurred that morning. One civilian was slightly injured by shrapnel. The SMM monitors left the scene unharmed.

At the headquarters of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces Major-General said shelling in the villages of Avdiivka, Opytne and Pisky (in the vicinity of Donetsk airport) had been non-stop for the past 24 hours. He also noted an increase in violations originating from “LPR”-controlled territories in areas around government-controlled Shchastya (23km north of Luhansk) and Vesela Hora (19km north of Luhansk). Representatives of the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC did not provide a ceasefire violation log; one was provided by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Until recently a joint log was produced at the JCCC, however, since 20 April, separate logs (with different figures) have been submitted. Members of the “DPR” and “LPR” were not present.

In “DPR”-controlled Hrabove (62km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed a 53 truck convoy carrying banners that read “Humanitarian help from the Russian Federation”. The “DPR” crisis manager at a distribution point in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (8km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that 50 trucks from the Russian Federation each delivered 1200 tons of humanitarian aid.

The SMM observed a separate convoy of 60 trucks from the Russian Federation in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Luhansk. Of the 60 trucks, three were sent to the “LPR” “ministry of emergency” and the rest to different warehouses in Luhansk city. The SMM visited the warehouses, counted a total of 57 trucks and saw stored foodstuffs. An “LPR” member at one warehouse told the SMM that they had received aid containing foodstuffs. The SMM saw only some of the trucks being unloaded.

Local people in government-controlled Peredilske (23km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that military exercises by Ukrainian Armed Forces took place near the village in recent days. They are also concerned that fields are mined and said this has prevented them from cultivating their land. According to them, the Ukrainian Armed Forces has not provided information on the location of suspected minefields.

The SMM observed heavy weapons at a site in an “LPR”-controlled area visited in previous days (see SMM Daily Reports, 20, 21, 22 April) that is not in compliance with withdrawal lines as specified in the Minsk arrangements. According to the “LPR”, the weapons are being prepared for a Victory Day parade on 9 May. All heavy weapons seen on previous visits were accounted for on that site.

The SMM visited three heavy weapons holding sites in “DPR”-controlled areas. At two of the sites the SMM found weapons were in situ. These sites comply with respective withdrawal lines. However, at one location all weapons had been removed and the site was empty with no “DPR” at this site. According to a local person, the battery of 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika howitzers at this site were taken for an exercise in the vicinity of “DPR”-controlled Shaktarsk (49km east of Donetsk) on 21 April.

The SMM continued to see movement of military hardware. In territory under “LPR”-control, in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements, four main battle tanks (MBT) and a piece of heavy artillery (type not determined due to distance) were seen by the SMM. In areas under the control of the “DPR” (and proscribed by the Minsk arrangements), the SMM saw 15 MBTs and three infantry fighting vehicles (BMP). In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw three stationary MBTs (T-64) (the same as previously reported in SMM Daily Report, 22 April) and three further MBTs (T-64), which were also in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements.

The SMM Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) observed one burning house and three MBT in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol); three towed howitzer in a stationary position, guns pointing to the west in an “LPR”-controlled area and three MBT in government-controlled areas.

Approximately 30 demobilized Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel (all men) and relatives of fallen servicepersons gathered in front of the council building in Lviv and demanded land as provided for in a Government decision in support of active Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel. The Mayor suggested meeting with them in the coming days.

The SMM monitored a protest march in Kyiv of up to 3,000 people (80% elderly, mostly women and 20% high school students under 18 years old) against the increasing cost of utility bills. On their way from European Square to the Parliament and Presidential Administration, protestors blocked streets in the city for 30 minutes. Thirty young men wearing white masks were among the crowd. At approximately 13:30hrs, outside the Presidential Administration building, the protestors dispersed peacefully. Up to 100 police officers and 10 National Guard in military uniform secured the entrance to the Parliament. The SMM also monitored another peaceful protest in Kyiv of up to 300 coal miners (predominantly men, aged from 20-60 years old) in front of the Parliament. The demonstrators, who carried the flag of the Independent Coal Miners Trade Union, held banners demanding the payment of wage arrears and the resignation of the Minister of Energy and the Coal Industry.

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

  • 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 prevented from proceeding through a checkpoint outside “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) allegedly because of shelling beyond that point. At a government-controlled checkpoint in Makarove (19km north-east of Luhansk) a border guard officer asked for nationalities of all patrol members, logged license plate numbers, checked ID cards and, recorded all in his logbook. He telephoned all data immediately (to person unknown). The SMM were allowed to proceed after 5 minutes.

At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint 29 near government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM was told that no further movement from that point was allowed towards the “LPR”-controlled side. The checkpoint commander said that as the patrol was not announced in advance, he could not guarantee the safety of the SMM.

In the south-eastern part of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol), the SMM was denied freedom of movement by “DPR” members, allegedly because the area was mined due to recent shelling. The SMM were told that only two or three monitors could pass. The SMM observed one male individual in the distance, and a vehicle with two “DPR” members moving about.

Michael Bociurkiw
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turgenevska Street
01054 Kyiv
Office: +380 44 382 0832
Mobile: +38 067 4083107

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