Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 15 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations but more explosions in Donetsk region compared with the previous reporting period. It recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM camera at the Donetsk filtration station recorded a round exploding very close to the camera. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations near the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including near Kreminets.* The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in Shymshynivka and Bohoiavlenka. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure inShchastia, Vesela Hora and Novozvanivka. The Mission visited three border areas outside of the control of the government.The SMM followed up on media reports that a car belonging to the Consul General of the Russian Federation Consulate in Kharkiv had been damaged.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including, however, almost 600 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 220 explosions).

While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 14 November, the SMM recorded 305 explosions and bursts of heavy-machine-gun-fire 3-8km south-west. On 15 November, positioned on the north-western edge of Horlivka for about five hours, the SMM heard 29 undetermined explosions 5-8km west and 6-8km south-west.

On the evening of 14 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 35 outgoing explosions – 31 of which were assessed as mortar rounds – and small-arms fire 2-3km south-east and 12 explosions assessed as impacts 2-3km south-west.

On the evening and night of 14-15 November the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, ten projectiles in flight from east to west, a projectile and seven tracer rounds in flight from west to east, followed by totals of 12 tracer rounds and 18 projectiles from east to west, ten from west to east and a projectile from south to north, all 5-8km north. On 15 November the same camera recorded, in sequence, 12 projectiles from east to west, 13 from west to east and five from east to west, all 5-8km north.

On the evening and night of 14-15 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, a projectile in flight from south to north, three projectiles from south-east to north-west, one from north-west to south-east and two from east to west, followed by 14 undetermined explosions, three explosions assessed as impacts and three assessed as outgoing, 23 projectiles from south-east to north-west and seven projectiles from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. At 02:18 on 15 November, the camera also recorded an outgoing round from an undetermined weapon 0.5-1.5km south and a subsequent incoming explosion very close to the camera. The camera remained operational but due to security considerations the SMM has not been able to visit the camera site for an assessment of possible damage. During the daytime on 15 November the same camera recorded an undetermined explosion, 28 projectiles from east to west, three from west to east, two from east to west, followed by a total of six undetermined explosions and two projectiles from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On 15 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about five hours the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions and bursts of small-arms fire 1-3km north-west and 2-7km west. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about an hour the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions 2-7km north-west and 5-7km west.

Positioned in south-western parts of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about five hours the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire 2-4km south-east and 4-6km south-west.

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

Positioned in government-controlled Toretsk (formerly Dzerzhynsk, 43km north of Donetsk) for about two hours, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 8-10km south-west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including 28 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 170 explosions).

While in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk) on the night of 14 November, the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions more than 10km west.

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.*

While on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska on the night of 14 November the SMM heard one undetermined explosion and small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 4-5km south but was unable to assess if it was in or outside the disengagement area. On 15 November the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 4-6km south but was unable to assess if it was in or outside the disengagement area.

On 14 November the SMM camera at the Prince Ihor monument, south-east of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) recorded two undetermined explosions, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 14 November the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk) recorded eight tracer rounds in flight from west to east 0.5-1km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

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 observed eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) near Bohoiavlenka (46km south-west of Donetsk).

In violation of the withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas an SMM mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted 14 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika), 14 towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) near Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk) on 13 November.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites an SMM mini UAV spotted 35 tanks (20 T-64, 15 T-72) and nine mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm) near Shymshynivka on 13 November. Nearby, on the same date, the UAV also spotted 44 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (39 BMP-1, five BMP-2), 17 armoured personnel carriers (APC) (one BTR-80 and 16 MT-LB, one with a ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun on top), four APCs (BRM-1K) and four armoured combat vehicles (BRDM-2), six surface-to-air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10), one tank (T-55, without its main gun), at least 60 military-type trucks and about 100 persons in military-style clothing spread throughout the site.

An SMM UAV also spotted 30 tanks (ten T-72 and 20 T-64) near “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) on 14 November. There, the UAV also spotted 13 IFVs (11 BMP-1, two BMP-2) and three APCs (MT-LB) on the same date. 

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 government-controlled areas the SMM observed five towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm). It observed four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), one towed howitzer (2A65 Msta-B), six towed artillery (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm), 28 mortars (15 2B11 Sani, 12 M-120 Molot, 120mm, and one BM-37, 82 mm) and nine anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira) continued to be absent.

Inside the security zone, in an area between “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol) and Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km east of Mariupol) the SMM saw six new trenches (about two days old), each about 40m long.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to the power plant in government-controlled Shchastia, to an electricity substation near “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), to the Troitske-Novozvanivka power line in government-controlled Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk) and repair works at the phenol sludge reservoir in government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk).

The Mission visited three border areas outside of government control. At the Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point, for about an hour, the SMM saw seven vehicles (two with Ukrainian, four with Russian, and one with Georgian licence plates) and six pedestrians queuing to enter Ukraine, and 14 vehicles (nine with Ukrainian and five with Russian licence plates), a minibus (with Ukrainian licence plates and carrying nine passengers) and a bus (with Russian licence plates) (carrying about 40 passengers) exiting Ukraine.

At a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about 30 minutes the SMM saw 14 civilian vehicles (with the following licence plates: eight Ukrainian, three Russian Federation, one Lithuanian, and two with “DPR” plates) enter Ukraine; and nine civilian vehicles (with the following licence plates: four Ukrainian, four Russian Federation, and one with “DPR” plates) exit Ukraine.

At the Ulianivske pedestrian border crossing point (61km south-east of Donetsk) for about 15 minutes the SMM saw no one cross the border.

The SMM followed up on media reports that a car belonging to the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Kharkiv had been damaged. Police told the SMM that during the night of 12-13 November a liquid was poured onto the car by unknown person(s), corroding its paint. Police told the SMM that they have launched an investigation under article 194.1 of the Criminal Code (wilful destruction or endangerment of property).

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, 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, for example, SMM Daily Report 23 October 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. Armed “LPR” members 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. Ukrainian Armed Forces officers 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 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 could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled 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 two occasions, armed men stopped the SMM at a checkpoint on the H15 road near the Cargill plant in “DPR”-controlled Kreminets (16km south-west of Donetsk) and allowed the SMM to proceed only after seeing inside its trailers. The SMM informed the JCCC on both occasions.  

 

[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. For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational.