Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 13 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous 24 hours. The Mission followed up on reports of a civilian casualty in Marinka. It observed a fresh impact site in Popasna. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including in Novolaspa.* The SMM observed weapons in violations of the withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Shchastia and Dovhe, and near Zalizne, Novozvanivka,and Vesela Hora. It visited a border area not under government control.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, fewer explosions (about 100), compared with the previous 24 hours (about 290 explosions).

On the evening of 12 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard six undetermined explosions, about 30 explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds, four explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of recoilless-gun (SPG-9, 73mm) and over 100 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-7km south-south-east and south-west. During the day on 13 November, while in the same location, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions and about ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-8km south-south-east and south-west.    

On the evening and night of 12-13 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion, three projectiles in flight from east to west, three undetermined explosions, ten projectiles in flight from east to west, followed by totals of 15 undetermined explosions, about 30 projectiles in flight from east to west, 16 projectiles in flight from west to east, and an illumination flare in vertical flight, all 0.5-1.5km south.

During the day on 13 November, positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard about 30 undetermined explosions, about 100 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, and 12 shots of infantry-fighting-vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire, all 1-6km at directions ranging from south to south-east.

On the evening of 12 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, seven tracer rounds in flight from west to east, 22 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, 19 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, followed by totals of two undetermined explosions, 16 tracer rounds and 76 projectiles in flight from east to west, 94 projectiles in flight from west to east and nine illumination flares (seven in vertical flight, one in flight from west to east and one in flight from east to west), all 5-8km north.

During the day on 13 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions, 18 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from south-west to west-north-west. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about an hour and a half, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions and about 180 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-3km west.

During the day on 13 November, positioned at the central railway station in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city (6km north-west of city centre) for about two hours, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and about 20 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-5km north-west and north.

During the day on 13 November, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard four explosions assessed as automatic-grenade-launcher fire 9-10km north-west, five shots of small-arms fire 4-5km north-north-west and 20 shots of small-arms fire 1.5-2km west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 220 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours (70 explosions).

On the evening of 12 November, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 8-10km west.

During the day on 13 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 56 undetermined explosions and 12 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 4-6km south-west, nine undetermined explosions and four bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2km west (all assessed as live-fire exercise).

During the day on 13 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard 42 undetermined explosions assessed as mortar rounds 5km west-south-west.

During the day on 13 November, positioned 3km north-west of “LPR”-controlled Almazna (55km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions and 20 bursts 5-10km west-south-west. On the same day, positioned 3km south-west of Almazna, the SMM heard 27 undetermined explosions and about 50 bursts 5-10km at directions ranging from south-west to west-north-west and about 80 shots 2-4km east.

The SMM followed up on reports of a civilian casualty. On 13 November, a forensic expert at a morgue in government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) told the SMM that on 12 November the Ukrainian Armed Forces had brought to the facility the body of a man from government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). According to him, the man had died instantly on 10 November after sustaining shrapnel wounds to his legs and torso caused by the explosion of a mine. He added that the explosion had occurred in 17 Haharina Street in Marinka, about 2.5km north-east of the entry-exit checkpoint near Marinka, while he was walking through a mined area. On 13 November, a police officer in Marinka told the SMM that a man (aged 50-60 and a resident of Polotska Street in the Trudivski area of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district) had died after having activated a tripwire mine at 17 Haharina Street in Marinka on 10 November. On 13 November, a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that the man had been walking through a mined area in 17 Haharina Street when he had activated the tripwire mine.  

On 12 November, in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw a fresh impact to the south-eastern facing side of a tree trunk 20m north of Ukrainian Armed Forces barracks and approximately 5m south of road T0504. The SMM could not assess the weapon used or the direction of fire.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On the evening of 11 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded, in sequence: six tracer rounds in flight from west to east and two undetermined explosions 1-3km south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), two tracer rounds in flight from west to east 3-5km south and an undetermined explosion 3-5km west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On the evening of 12 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion, 25 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 14 shots of small-arms fire and 11 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, all 3-5km south and south-south-west (none of which the SMM was able to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 13 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Zolote-5 (61km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 5-8km north-north-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area). On the same day, positioned in government-controlled Zolote, the SMM heard four explosions of mortar rounds 2-3km north-west and two explosions of mortar rounds 2-3km south-east, all assessed as outside the disengagement area. On the same day, positioned in government-controlled Zolote-3, the SMM heard 25 explosions assessed as IFV (BMP-variant) cannon fire, 12 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds and three explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds, all 6-8km south-east and assessed as outside the disengagement area.  

In the late afternoon of 13 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) recorded a projectile in flight (the SMM was unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

On 13 November, positioned in Petrivske and in government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk), west of the Petrivske disengagement area, the SMM observed a calm situation.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw a stationary anti-aircraft missile system (9K33 Osa) in Orlivka (22km north-west of Donetsk). In an area outside of government-control, the SMM saw a stationary tank in Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw ten stationary towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) near Maloianisol (78km south-west of Donetsk). In a non-government-controlled area, the SMM saw ten stationary tanks 3km west of Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and recently dug trenches[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw two stationary IFVs (a BMP-1 and a BMP-variant) near Popasna. On the eastern outskirts of Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol), the SMM saw again three large rectangular excavations (6m in diameter and 1m in depth) approximately 200m from previously observed trenches (see SMM Daily Report 4 August 2017). The SMM also saw a 50m-long newly dug trench 30m east from the road connecting Sopyne with road E58.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the JCCC to the high-voltage power lines between government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) and Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), the thermal power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the phenol sludge reservoir near government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk) and the high-voltage power lines near Vesela Hora. On 13 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk) to monitor and facilitate repair works to the high-voltage power lines, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 3km east and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3km west. The workers, who were conducting the repair works, and the SMM left the area.

On 13 November, the SMM visited a border area not under government control. At a border crossing point near Marynivka (78km east of Donetsk), in about an hour, the SMM saw 11 cars (four with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates, and two with “DPR” plates) and a bus (with passengers on board and Ukrainian licence plates) exit Ukraine. The SMM saw seven cars (three with Ukrainian, two with Russian Federation and two with Lithuanian licence plates) and two buses (with Ukrainian licence plates) enter Ukraine. The SMM saw one of the drivers, immediately after entering Ukraine, replace the Lithuanian licence plates of his car with “DPR” plates.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

*Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so (See SMM Daily Report 12 November 2017).The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An “LPR” member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. 
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM did not travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Conditional access:

  • On 13 November, “DPR” members allowed the SMM access to Novolaspa (50km south of Donetsk) only under the condition that armed “DPR” members would accompany the SMM.

[1] Please see the annexed report for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational. Nine SMM cameras are in a testing phase, to last until 30 November 2017.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.