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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 17 July 2015

Author: Ayre от 18.07.2015, 23:35
(голосов: 1)

The level of violence at and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled airport (12km north-west of Donetsk) continued to decrease as already observed during previous days. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk) between 08:00 and 15:22hrs, the SMM heard 20 explosions, out of which 13 were consistent with mortar rounds (82mm and 120mm) incoming, while seven were undetermined, at locations ranging from 1 to 5.6km and from the north-north-east to the west of the SMM’s position. The SMM concluded that this was the lowest number of observed explosions during this week. The rounds were followed by exchanges of small-arms fire, at locations 1-6km west, north-west and north-east of the SMM’s position.[1]  

Positioned at its observation point on the eastern outskirts of Berdianske (government-controlled, 1.5km west of Shyrokyne, 18.5km east of Mariupol), the SMM did not observe any ceasefire violations in the area during the day. The SMM visited Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) and did not observe any ceasefire violations. The SMM noted that crates of small-arms ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) seen during its last visit to Shyrokyne on 12 July, were no longer there. The SMM discovered full boxes of anti-personnel mines.

In Kyiv as well as at the crash site in Hrabove (“DPR”-controlled, 64km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed a minute of silence for the victims of the downing of Malaysian Airline Flight MH17 on the occasion of the first anniversary of this tragedy. At the site, the SMM observed about a dozen civilians (different age and gender) gathered near a new-looking stone monument – reading “to the victims of the civil war”. The SMM did not observe any foreigners aside international news crews. Local residents told the SMM that a small workers group had installed the monument two days ago. The interlocutors told the SMM that a “DPR”-organized ceremony had taken place earlier that day, following a service at a local church. They said about 500 people had attended the event – mainly local residents, but also several “DPR” armed personnel. According to the interlocutors, “DPR” leadership including Mr. Zakharchenko attended the ceremony. While leaving Hrabove, the SMM passed a “DPR” convoy of 10 infantry fighting vehicles (BMP) and 30 “DPR” armed members.

The SMM continued to facilitate vital repair work on the water-supply system near “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk). However, while at the site the SMM heard at 11:05hrs approximately 300 metres from its position shots of small-arms fire followed by intensified exchange of fire from a north-westerly and south-easterly direction. The SMM saw how workers from Voda Donbasa were getting cover by their trucks. The SMM decided to leave the area. According to the “DPR” “emergency service” personnel in charge of demining the area prior to repair works, fire had been opened by an unidentified source at which “DPR” had fired back in order to protect workers on the spot. They told the SMM that the whole team had left the hazardous area. According to Ukrainian Armed Forces representatives at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in Dzerzhinsk (government-controlled, 42km north of Donetsk), Ukrainian Armed Forces had told that their unit located north of Shumy (50km north-east of Donetsk) had exchanged occasional bursts of small-arms fire with “DPR”, located in the area of coalmine Shakhta 6/7 (“DPR”-controlled, 40km north-east of Donetsk, 7km north-west of Horlivka) forcing the Voda Donbasa work crew to evacuate the area, along with the SMM and the ”emergency service” personnel, thus bringing the water pipeline repair works to a halt for the day. According to the interlocutors, no casualties were reported; however, three vehicles of Voda Donbasa had been damaged in the exchange of fire.

Following days of intensive negotiations in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km-west of Donetsk) and in Petrovskyi district (“DPR”-controlled, 23 south-west of Donetsk) the SMM managed to facilitate a ceasefire to support repair works on a power line damaged by shelling in January. The repair work was primarily focused on repairs to the system affecting some 10,000 people in Krasnohorivka. The SMM teams on both sides of the line of contact were in close contact with JCCC representatives at Krasnohorivka as well as with Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” “commanders” on site to help maintain the ceasefire. The repair works started at 10:30hrs and finished after approximately one hour. However, according to the director of the power substation in Krasnohorivka the power line was still not operational due to technical deficiencies.

The security situation in Luhansk region was relatively calm, though the SMM observed three ceasefire violations in two different locations: in government-controlled Nyzhnie (60km north-west of Luhansk), it heard several explosions, at a distance of 3-5km south-west of its position. In government-controlled Staryi Aidar (20km north-west of Luhansk) it heard several explosions, some of which it assessed as mortar rounds (120mm) incoming at a location 5km east of the SMM’s position.

In “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM observed a ceasefire which was facilitated by the JCCC in Luhansk to enable a utility maintenance crew to repair an electrical substation damaged during shelling in February this year. The substation is usually supplying 12 water dwells. From 10:00-16:00hrs the crew was able to finish its work fixing the damaged electrical wiring. According to the maintenance crew the system would be tested and operational as of 20 July.

The SMM re-visited one “DPR” heavy weapons holding area; checking against previously recorded serial numbers, the SMM noted that one 122mm artillery piece – previously observed – was missing from the location. The SMM re-visited one Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area, and confirmed that all weapons previously recorded there were in situ. Both locations visited by the SMM comply with the respective withdrawal lines.

Despite claims by all sides that heavy weapons had been withdrawn, the SMM continued to observe heavy weapons in areas proscribed by the Minsk arrangements: in government-controlled areas a military truck towing an artillery gun (D-44 85mm), another military truck towing a 120mm mortar, one main battle tank (MBT) (T-64) and two automatic grenade launchers.

In addition, SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) continued to observe concentrations of military hardware in “DPR”-controlled areas: in Komsomolske (49km south of Donetsk) seven main-battle tanks (MBT), 24 armoured personnel carriers (APC), four infantry fighting vehicles (BTR) and at least 35 military-type trucks. In Bila Kamyanka (52km south of Donetsk) UAVs spotted two MBTs. In government-controlled Starohnativka (52km south of Donetsk) two MBTs were observed. The SMM UAV observation was severely restricted due to the worst electronic interference experienced to date. The SMM assessed the jamming as intentional and of military origin.

The SMM continued to observe rallies in various cities by Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) members and supporters. In Dnepropetrovsk, the SMM saw 60 – 80 Right Sector members, mostly young males, in front of the police and Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) building. The SMM did not observe any police presence at the gathering. In Kyiv, about 50 unarmed Right Sector members,-young to middle-aged men, gathered in front of the presidential administration. The SMM saw 20 police officers in the vicinity of the gathering. The SMM visited two different temporary checkpoints: one on the highway leading towards Kyiv airport Boryspil and another on the road towards Zhytomyr (140km west of Kyiv). At both checkpoints Right Sector flags were displayed and 3-5 individuals were staffing each checkpoint. The SMM could not determine whether checkpoint personnel were armed. In Ivano-Frankivsk, the SMM saw 6-8 Right Sector members in front of the regional government building. The SMM saw no police presence.

The SMM continued to monitor the conduct of the security operation in Mukacheve (230km south-west of Ivano Frankivsk) where law enforcement personnel were on high security alert. In the area that saw no checkpoints prior the 11 July incident, the SMM recorded now six checkpoints, staffed by either traffic police or National Guard personnel.

The SMM continued to monitor the situations in Chernivtsi, Kharkiv, Kherson, Lviv and Odessa.

 

* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, 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 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.  The SMM UAVs cannot operate in Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.

Freedom of movement:

  • On 16 July, at 17:07hrs, the SMM was stopped by Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel in the vicinity of government-controlled Bakhmutivka (40km north-west of Luhansk). One soldier checked the documents of SMM monitors and requested to open the trunk of the OSCE vehicle. After an extensive search of the trunk and all equipment present in the trunk, he began to physically search the SMM personnel by patting down with his hand the exterior clothing of the SMM member at the rear of the vehicle. When the SMM asked to talk to his superior, the soldier moved the safety catch on his weapon from safe position to fully automatic position. The soldier told the SMM three times that in case SMM did not obey his directions, he would open fire. When the checkpoint commander arrived, he moved the safety catch on the soldier’s weapon from fully automatic back to safe position. After more than 20 minutes, the SMM was able to pass the checkpoint and continue with patrolling. 

Interference with UAVs:

On 17 July, between 08:40 and 10:30hrs, the SMM UAV experienced the most severe jamming to date while flying north of government-controlled Mariupol. The jamming was wide-spectrum, interfering with or blocking all UAV communication and control channels. Due to this interference it was impossible to determine the directional source of the jamming. However, it was noted that jamming grew stronger as the UAV returned from east of Mariupol towards the west.

 

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.

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

 

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