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

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The SMM conducted crater analysis in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, after shelling impacted civilians and residential buildings. The SMM met with two persons being held at a pre-trial detention centre in Kyiv following their arrest at a checkpoint in the Donetsk region. An SMM patrol was threatened by an armed “DPR” member east of Mariupol.

In “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk city the security situation appeared relatively calm, with only sporadic explosions heard by the SMM. From Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 15 explosions on the night of 29 July. The SMM heard eight explosions caused by incoming 122mm artillery fire and also small-arms fire while at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) observation point at the central railway station in Donetsk (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre).

The SMM observed multiple instances of shelling impacting on civilians and civilian objects. In “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (37km north-east of Donetsk), in the area of Pereslavskaya Street, the SMM was told by residents that shelling had taken place around 22:00hrs on 29 July. The SMM observed a direct impact to the roof of a house. A resident told the SMM that as a result of the shelling, one woman had been killed and her son and husband had been injured and hospitalized. Analysis on four craters out of four impacts identified was inconclusive. At another area, on Marshal Grichko Street, the SMM observed a direct impact to a house that was still on fire. The SMM observed that the western-facing walls of residential buildings were hit and damage (windows blown out, shrapnel marks on walls, holes in roofs) had been caused to these and other buildings in the area.

In another area of Horlivka (Rtutna Street), the SMM observed impacts to the western sides of apartment buildings, and some shrapnel marks on eastern façades. The walls of buildings were damaged and windows were shattered. The SMM saw a destroyed electricity post and noted a gas leak from a ruptured pipe. Three residents told the SMM that shelling had begun at around 04:00hrs on 30 July. According to them, one man had been killed and two elderly women and a 14-year-old child were injured. The SMM analysed five craters out of five impacts identified. The SMM found remnants of shells in the craters, assessed to be from 120mm calibre mortar. The SMM assessed the direction of fire as incoming from the west-north-west. 

The head and deputy head of Horlivka trauma hospital no. 2 together told the SMM that six people (two elderly women, two men and two children) had been injured as a result of the shelling and brought to the hospital, among them two children (one aged seven and the other 14 years). According to them, the seven-year old was severely injured. The 14-year old child had suffered minor injuries and had been released, they added. They said three other injured persons had gone to the hospital; one had been released and two were hospitalized. The SMM visited the injured and observed their condition.

At the Horlivka city morgue, an employee confirmed to the SMM that bodies had been brought there, but could not give numbers. After consulting with the head of the morgue, the SMM was told they must have approval from the “ministry of the interior” of the “DPR” before information was shared. The SMM was unable to confirm fatality figures.

Representatives from the JCCC office in government-controlled Dzershinsk (54km north of Donetsk) accompanied the SMM to several areas in the town that they said had been hit by a late evening/early morning shelling on 29/30 July. The SMM observed 12 impacts caused by mortar and artillery and conducted crater analysis at two locations. The SMM assessed the direction of fire to have been from an east-south-east direction. At least five houses had suffered direct hits, destroying roofs and walls. Telephone, electricity and gas infrastructure had also been affected and repair works were observed by the SMM. Several residents expressed concerns about the presence of Ukrainian soldiers in their neighbourhood. At the Dzershinsk central city hospital, the SMM verified that two civilians and one Ukrainian soldier had been killed, and that one civilian and one soldier had been injured in the shelling.

The SMM met with the respective JCCC representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces at the coke and chemical plant in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north-west of Donetsk). Both informed the SMM of a 26 July shelling (122mm artillery) of the plant, which according to them originated from the area of Spartak and Donetsk airport, to the south of the town. The JCCC representatives told the SMM that on the same day, a 50-year-old woman had been killed and one person had been injured by a grenade. In Avdiivka, the SMM saw three craters, assessed by the SMM to have been caused by 122mm calibre artillery, and the remnants of a multiple launch rocket system (9K51/BM-21 Grad). The team also observed three houses with holes in their roofs and windows blown out. Due to damage sustained, it was impossible to say which side of the houses had been hit. Additionally, the SMM saw a shed with a collapsed (south-facing) wall and three craters nearby, assessed by the SMM to have been caused by 122mm artillery rounds. No crater analysis was conducted.

Residents (mostly middle aged men and women) in government-controlled Opytne (21km north-west of Donetsk) told the SMM that all children had been relocated from the village, leaving 70 adults, the majority of whom lived in basements. They said they endured shelling on a daily basis. Residents said they have also have limited food, water and electricity and must travel to the outskirts of the village to draw water from a well.

In an area east of “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (28km north-east of Mariupol), an SMM patrol was stopped by two “DPR” members in a civilian pick-up vehicle, who ordered the patrol to return in the direction they had just travelled*. “DPR” members escorted the patrol back to a “DPR” checkpoint, where one armed man exited his vehicle and stood in front of the lead SMM patrol vehicle. After shouting and behaving aggressively, he took a 12.7mm heavy machine-gun from the vehicle, loaded it with shaking hands, and pointed it at the SMM. Acting aggressively, he approached the lead SMM vehicle and gave an ultimatum: depart the area through Oktiabr or take his escort to the next checkpoint. The SMM patrol turned around and left Oktiabr, and returned safely to base in Mariupol.

In government-controlled Putylyne (44km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard some 25 explosions emanating from a south-easterly direction, at a distance of 4-6km.

In government-controlled Krymske (43km north-west of Luhansk) a Ukrainian Armed Forces commander showed the SMM four impact craters (within 10-20m from one another) in a field, which he said were caused by shelling on 29 July between 23:00 and 23:30hrs. The SMM examined shell fragments and assessed them to be consistent with 122mm or 152mm artillery. A resident in her fifties told the SMM she had heard shelling on 29 July around midnight.

The SMM visited four warehouses in Luhansk city, where the SMM saw a convoy of 45 trucks deliver “humanitarian aid”. An interlocutor responsible for the warehouses said the convoy came from the Russian Federation and brought foodstuffs (408 tons), medical supplies (44 tons) and school textbooks (100 tons).

At a “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) training area near Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a live-fire exercise. The SMM observed 15 armed “LPR” members securing the site. The SMM observed main battle tanks (T-64, T-72) and mortars (72mm), but could not ascertain an exact number.

Staff at the main hospital and ambulance station in “LPR”-controlled Alchevsk (40km south-east of Luhansk) told the SMM that there was a general lack of medicine, particularly analgesics. Hospital staff said they are resupplied from Luhansk only when medicines are available. According to interlocutors at the ambulance station, they received some supplies just over a week ago but that was not enough to cover all their needs.

The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas. At two of the sites all weapons previously recorded were in situ. “DPR” members at the third site refused to let the SMM record the serial numbers of weapons*. At this site, the SMM did observe that two towed artillery pieces (122mm D30) were still missing, as previously reported on 26 July. The SMM revisited eight Ukrainian Armed Forces holding areas and found that all weapons were missing from five sites. At the other three sites, all weapons were in situ. The locations of all the sites were in compliance with the respective withdrawal lines.

At one location in a government-controlled area, in violation of the respective weapons’ withdrawal lines, the SMM observed an MBT (T-64).

The SMM met with two detained persons currently held at the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) pre-trial detention centre in Kyiv in the presence of the SBU investigator in charge of the case (see SMM Daily Report 30 July 2015). The SMM assessed their general condition and their understanding of the criminal procedures they are facing. Both men have been accused of participation in terrorist activities following their arrest by Ukrainian border guards at a checkpoint in government-controlled Berezove (31km south-west of Donetsk) on 25 July. One detainee claimed to be a member of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and the other a “DPR” member. One of the detainees stated that he had met with his lawyer. Both said they have not communicated with their families despite having been given the opportunity to do so.

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

* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border, particularly those controlled by the “LPR”, have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM.

Denied access:

  • In “LPR”-controlled Sievero-Hundorivskyi (45km south-east of Luhansk),  “LPR” “border guards” stopped the SMM, examined letters providing “unrestricted access”, before asking the SMM to leave the border zone. One “LPR” member instructed the SMM to obtain authorization from “border guard” headquarters in order to patrol in the area. The SMM left the area.
  • The SMM was stopped by two armed men wearing military uniforms in the vicinity of “LPR”-controlled Yasne (25km south-west of Luhansk) and was told that it was not allowed to proceed due to a live-fire exercise nearby. The armed men said they had been instructed to allow only civilians to proceed. The SMM requested to meet the “commanding officer” and while waiting, the SMM observed approximately 15 vehicles pass by, including one bus. The vehicles were not stopped or searched. After waiting 30 minutes, the SMM left without meeting the “commanding officer”.
  • “DPR” members at a heavy weapons holding area refused to let the SMM record the serial numbers of weapons.
  • “DPR” members prevented the SMM from travelling east of Oktiabr (28.5km north-east of Mariupol).

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

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