Spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), 5 September 2014: The Situation in Mariupol
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE 5 September 2014
This report is for media and the general public.
On 5 September, the SMM monitored the Vostochny District of Mariupol city and the “Vostochny” checkpoint on the eastern outskirts of Mariupol.
In the Vostochny District, the inhabitants stated to the SMM that they had spent the night in basements and underground garages and that they lacked food, blankets and a water supply. The location of a newly-established Ukrainian army checkpoint has raised serious concerns as it is located 500 metres from high-rise residential buildings and 300 metres from a large gas distribution hub. Furthermore, residents raised concerns over the presence of snipers from the Ukrainian army on the roofs of their buildings. The SMM did not observe bomb shelters or bunkers in Vostochny District.
The SMM visited the “Vostochny” checkpoint and met local residents who stated that, at about 06:00hrs ten Ukrainian pieces of artillery located 500 metres north of the checkpoint opened fire towards the village of Shyrokyne before leaving the area. The irregular armed groups reportedly fired back at both “Vostochny” checkpoint and another checkpoint located to the north on the old road to Novoazovsk. Residents also observed a column of Ukrainian military hardware destroyed by shelling and retreating from the northern checkpoint. They heard cries and later noticed ambulances evacuating injured soldiers.
The Ukrainian military representatives at the “Vostochny” checkpoint stated to the SMM that there were many casualties in Shyrokyne village and some 30-40 rounds of artillery fired at the “Vostochny” checkpoint from different directions and hidden firing points. They complained about the lack of support from some segments of the local population.
The SMM also spoke to representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) near the “Vostochny” checkpoint who expressed concerns over the humanitarian aid planned to be delivered to 16 internally displaced person (IDP) centres in Mariupol city. In particular there were concerns that the aid might be confiscated by irregular armed forces should the city surrender.
On 4 September, the Monitoring Team was informed by a local source that from 3 September, the Ukrainian border guards started to work at “Novoazovsk” border crossing point with the Russian Federation. He stated that the situation is calm but there are a number of checkpoints of the so-called “Donetsk Peoples’ Republic” (“DNR”) before the border at which vehicles are stopped and all Ukrainian symbols such as flags are collected.
At 16:00hrs today, the SMM visited the “Vostochny” checkpoint and was stopped 300 metres before the checkpoint where all the traffic was blocked. The SMM observed large clouds of smoke, a big concentration of Ukrainian troops, four pieces of 122mm guns, six trucks with soldiers in the staging area behind the checkpoint on the main road to Novoazovsk. The SMM also observed five APCs entering the city. The SMM did not observe any artillery pieces in the area of the residential buildings in the vicinity of the checkpoint.
The SMM proceeded to “Vinogradne” checkpoint where Ukrainian army representatives said that their checkpoint was not shelled and they did not observe any people fleeing from the villages east of Vinogradne. Since 16:00hrs the SMM has heard shelling by “Grad” system from the direction of irregular armed forces positions.
On 5 September, the SMM heard artillery discharge presumably from the western side of the city throughout the day. According to local residents, it was Ukrainian “Grad” systems located in the area of Stary Krym (the western suburbs of Mariupol) firing towards the village of Shyrokyne.