Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 14 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and fewer in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere.* The SMM observed weapons in violations of the withdrawal lines near Berestove and Orlivka. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Shchastia and Artema, and near Zalizne, Stanytsia Luhanska and Vesela Hora. It visited two border areas not under government control.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations,[1] including about 220 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 100 explosions).

On the evening of 13 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 40 explosions (19 assessed as impacts of mortar rounds, five assessed as rounds of infantry-fighting-vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) fire and the remainder undetermined), about 20 shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire and at least 500 shots and bursts of anti-aircraft cannon (ZU-23, 23mm), heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-6km south-east and south-south-east. The following day, while in the same location, the SMM heard 35 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds 1-3km south, and five undetermined explosions and about 100 bursts of small-arms fire, all 1-5km at south-easterly directions.

On the evening and night of 13-14 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two undetermined explosions, a projectile in flight from west to east, an illumination flare in vertical flight, an undetermined explosion, eight projectiles from east to west, an undetermined explosion, seven projectiles from east to west, two undetermined explosions, three projectiles from east to west, a projectile from west to east, five undetermined explosions and an illumination flare in flight from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 14 November, the same camera recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion, a projectile in flight from east to west, an undetermined explosion, a projectile in flight from west to east, an undetermined explosion, 25 projectiles from east to west, three undetermined explosions, a projectile from east to west, two undetermined explosions, 15 projectiles from east to west and two undetermined explosions, all 0.3-1.5km south.

On the evening and night of 13-14 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, an illumination flare in vertical flight, an undetermined explosion, a projectile in flight from east to west, an illumination flare in vertical flight and 19 projectiles from east to west, all 5-8km north. During the day on 14 November, the same camera recorded, in sequence, two projectiles in flight from west to east, 24 projectiles and a tracer round in flight from east to west, followed by aggregated totals of 43 projectiles (33 from east to west and ten from west to east) and 18 tracer rounds (17 from east to west and one from west to east), all 5-8km north.

During the day on 14 November, positioned near the SMM camera at the “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (9km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 2-3km north, and seven undetermined explosions and at least ten bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-3km at directions ranging from east-south-east to west-south-west.

Positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions and about 70 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from east to south-west.

Positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for three and a half hours, the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions and nine bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-4km west.

Positioned at the central railway station in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city (6km north-west of city centre) for about an hour, the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions 1-3km west.

Positioned 1km north-north-west of the entry-exit checkpoint near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 4-5km east, and nine undetermined explosions at unknown distances at south-easterly directions.

Positioned 2km south-west of Pyshchevyk, the SMM heard five undetermined explosions 4-8km at south-easterly directions, and 12 undetermined explosions, seven shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon fire and at least ten bursts of small-arms fire, all at unknown distances at south-easterly directions.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 170 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 220 explosions).

On the morning of 14 November, positioned 4km south-west of “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions (14 assessed as tank rounds, five assessed as anti-tank guided missile (9K111 Fagot, 120mm) rounds and five assessed as rounds of IFV (BMP-variant) cannon fire) and five bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3km south and assessed as part of a live-fire exercise. Later the same morning, positioned 3.5km north-west of Uspenka, the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions 5-7km south, also assessed as part of a live-fire exercise.

Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 40 undetermined explosions 10-12km south, assessed as part of a live-fire exercise.

Positioned 2.5km south-west of “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 27 undetermined explosions (13 assessed as tank rounds, eight assessed as artillery rounds (type-unknown) and six assessed as rounds of IFV (BMP-variant) cannon fire) and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1km south, assessed as part of a live-fire exercise.

Positioned 1km south of “LPR”-controlled Novopavlivka (25km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 32 explosions (14 assessed as tank rounds, three assessed as artillery rounds and 15 assessed as rounds of IFV (BMP-variant) cannon fire) and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-4km south-east, all assessed as part of a live-fire exercise.

During the day on 14 November, positioned on the southern edge of “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and 40 shots of small-arms fire, all 2-10km south and west. Positioned 3km south-east of Kalynove, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and 70 shots of small-arms fire, all 2-10km at southerly directions.

Positioned on the northern edge of “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 8-12km west-south-west and eight undetermined explosions 8-12km east-south-east.

Positioned 3.5km south-west of “LPR”-controlled Almazna (55km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 5-8km south-south-west and about 130 shots of small-arms fire 1-2km east, all assessed as live-fire exercise inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group of 3 March 2016 that prohibits the conduct of live-fire exercises in the security zone. 

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.*

During the day on 13 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded a tracer round in flight from west to east 2-3km south-south-west, assessed as inside the disengagement area. On the morning of 14 November, positioned in Petrivske, the SMM heard two shots and a burst of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-1.5km south-east and assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On the evening of 13 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3km south (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area). During the day on 14 November, positioned 100m north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard seven shots of small-arms fire 0.5km east (assessed as inside the disengagement area). On the same day, positioned 200m north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 2-3km south-east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On 14 November, positioned in and around the disengagement areas near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote, the SMM observed calm situations.

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 government-controlled areas, the SMM saw three self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) in Berestove (90km north-east of Donetsk) and a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) near Orlivka (22km north-west of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in a government-controlled area, the SMM saw four tanks (T-64) near government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk). In an area outside of government control, the SMM saw five howitzers (type-unknown) in a training area near Shymshynivka.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In non-government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and six towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), and noted that four self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and a towed howitzer (2A65) were again missing.

The SMM revisited weapons permanent storage sites in Donetsk region whose locations were beyond withdrawal lines and noted that 20 tanks (eight T-64 and 12 T-72), nine mortars (2B14 Podnos, 82mm) and 15 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) were missing.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), the water pumping station near Stanytsia Luhanska, the Petrivske water pumping station in government-controlled Artema (26km north 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 “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk).

The SMM visited two border areas not under government control. At a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), in about an hour, the SMM saw a bus (marked “Stakhanov-Kyiv via Belgorod and Kharkiv” with Ukrainian licence plates and carrying about 30 passengers) and 47 pedestrians (29 women and 18 men) exit Ukraine and three cars (with Ukrainian licence plates) and 22 pedestrians (17 women and five men) enter Ukraine.           

At the pedestrian border crossing point in Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk), in about half an hour, the SMM observed nine people exit Ukraine and four people enter.

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 secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC at a checkpoint on the northern 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.
  • 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.

[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.