Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 16 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station recorded an explosion close to the camera. The Mission followed up on reports of civilian casualties from Kodema, Hnutove, and Popasna. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area and near the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including in Kozatske, Verkhnoshyrokivske, and near Leonove, an area close to the border with the Russian Federation, as well as at a checkpoint near Horlivka.* It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure inShchastia, Vesela Hora, Raivka and Zalizne. The Mission visited a border area outside of the control of the government.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded a similar number of ceasefire violations[1], including, however, fewer explosions (about 560), compared with the previous reporting period (about 600 explosions).

On the evening of 15 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard and saw 35 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 5-12km at directions ranging from south-south-west to north-west and it heard five undetermined explosions 5-7km south-south-east.

On the evening and night of 15-16 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, eight projectiles in flight from east to west, two undetermined explosions, 28 projectiles in flight from east to west, two undetermined explosions, followed by totals of about 40 explosions (one was assessed as an airburst of an artillery round and the remainder undetermined) and 162 projectiles in flight (145 from east to west, three from west to east, four from north to south, ten from south to north), two tracer rounds in flight from south to north and 16 muzzle flashes, all 0.5-1.5km south. During the day on 16 November, the same camera recorded four explosions (one was assessed as an impact and the remainder undetermined) and five projectiles in flight from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. The SMM assessed that the projectile in flight from south to north and the subsequent incoming explosion recorded very close to the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station at 02:18 on 15 November (see SMM Daily Report 16 November 2017) was a recoilless-gun round fired 600-700m from a southerly direction. At 19:36 on 16 November, the same camera recorded a projectile in flight from south-west to north-east and a subsequent incoming explosion close to the camera, assessed as a round of rocket-propelled grenade or recoilless-gun fired approximately 250-450m from a southerly direction.

On the evening and night of 15-16 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, 18 illumination flares, two projectiles in flight from east to west, a projectile and nine tracer rounds in flight from west to east, 22 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, followed by totals of three projectiles and 47 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, and a projectile and 12 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all 5-8km north. During the day on 16 November, the same camera recorded, in sequence, nine projectiles in flight from east to west, five projectiles in flight from west to east and an undetermined explosion, all 5-8km north.

On 16 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard about 140 undetermined explosions and about 70 bursts and shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-15km at directions ranging from west to north. On the same day, positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about an hour, the SMM heard about 60 undetermined explosions, all 10-15km north-west.

On the evening of 15 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded ten tracer rounds in flight from south to north 4-6km east-south-east. On 16 November, positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka for about five hours, the SMM heard about ten undetermined explosions and ten shots and bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-5km east-south-east and south-east, and 90 explosions (of which about 50 were assessed as outgoing and the remainder undetermined) and about 50 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 1-7km at directions ranging from north-west to north-east.

On 16 November, positioned on the north-western edge of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard about 90 undetermined explosions, all 5-8km south-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk) for about an hour, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions and uncountable and overlapping bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-6km west-south-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk) for about an hour, the SMM heard about ten undetermined explosions 2-7km north and about ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 1.5-2km west.

Positioned in the Trudivski area of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district (15km south-west of Donetsk city centre) for about half an hour, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion and a burst of small-arms fire 1-1.5km south and south-west.

Positioned 1km north of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol) for about an hour, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions and about 60 bursts and shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-8km at directions ranging from south-south-east to west-north-west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, all explosions (about 60), compared with the previous reporting period (about 30 explosions).

On the evening of 15 November, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 16 explosions assessed as artillery rounds 8-11km south-south-west. 

On 16 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten explosions assessed as mortar rounds 10-12km west-south-west. 

The SMM followed up on reports of civilian casualties. On 16 November, medical staff at a hospital in government-controlled Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk, 67km north of Donetsk) told the SMM that a woman (aged 54) from government-controlled Kodema (57km north-east of Donetsk) had been admitted to the hospital around 15:40 on 13 November with shrapnel injuries to her left leg, left arm and the left-side of her chest. At the same hospital, the SMM spoke with the woman, who said that she had been in a field near Kodema when a stick she had been carrying had touched an object which then exploded, causing injuries to her left side.

On 16 November, a representative of the National Police in Mariupol told the SMM by phone that a police car had hit an anti-tank mine on 15 November in government-controlled Hnutove (20km north-east of Mariupol) killing a police officer and injuring another two. The interlocutor added that one of the injured police officers had been admitted to hospital no. 5 in Mariupol on 15 November and the other to a hospital in Dnipro. On 16 November, medical staff at hospital no. 5 in Mariupol told the SMM that one of the two injured police officers, who had been admitted on 15 November with injuries to his body caused by an explosion, had undergone surgery. Medical staff also told the SMM that the second police officer had sustained more serious injuries and had been transferred to a hospital in Dnipro.  

On 16 November, at the Mechnikov Regional Clinical Hospital in Dnipro, medical staff told the SMM that a woman had been transferred from a hospital in Popasna and had been admitted to the facility on 14 November. Medical staff added that the woman had sustained gunshot wounds and fractures to her right hip and right femoral bone. At the same hospital in Dnipro, the SMM spoke with the woman, who said that around 06:30 on 13 November, she was at her daughter’s apartment in Popasna when she had heard knocking at the door and someone shouting that they were conducting identity documents checks. The woman said that, when she had opened the door, she had seen two armed men wearing military-style clothes with Ukrainian insignias, as well as balaclavas. She also said that one of the two men had fired a gunshot, and the second one had also fired one shortly after. She added that, after a probable ricochet bullet had hit her, the two men shouted that they had made a mistake and left the scene. On 16 November, a police officer in Popasna told the SMM that an investigation into the incident had been launched under the jurisdiction of the military prosecutor.

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 16 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions 4-7km south-south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area. On 16 November, positioned 100m north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3-4km south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On the evening and night of 14-15 November the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded, in sequence: seven tracer rounds in flight from south-west to north-east (assessed as inside the disengagement area); two tracer rounds in flight from east to west (assessed as outside the disengagement area); about 40 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all 1-2km south-south-west, and a projectile in flight from north to south, 17 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, three projectiles in flight from north to south, all 1-3km south and south-south-west (none of which the SMM was able to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area); and three tracer rounds in flight from east to west 100-300m south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area). On 16 November, positioned in Petrivske for about an hour, the SMM heard about 30 undetermined explosions and uncountable, overlapping bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-10km north-north-west (all of which assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On 16 November, positioned near the Zolote 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.

The SMM observed the presence of an armoured personnel carrier (APC)[2] and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw a stationary APC (BTR-70) near Popasna. In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM heard an unidentified UAV flying 100-150m above the ground near Vesela Hora.

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 (20km north of Luhansk), to power lines near Vesela Hora and to power lines in “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk) and to the phenol sludge reservoir in government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk).

The Mission visited a border area outside of government control. Escorted by unarmed “LPR” members*, the SMM visited the border crossing point in Leonove (formerly Chervonyi Zhovten, 82km south of Luhansk). The SMM saw several cut trees lying on the road, five concrete blocks, and barbed wire (2.5m high) behind them. Two unarmed “LPR” members told the SMM that the border crossing point was closed.  

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, for example, 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:

  • In “DPR”-controlled Kozatske (36km north-east of Mariupol), armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM and said that it could not proceed further due to the presence of mines on the road. They added that the SMM could use an alternative route: an unpaved road 300m south. The SMM could see, however, cars driving on the allegedly mined road. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • In “DPR”-controlled Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol), unarmed “DPR” members stopped the SMM and asked it to leave the area immediately, saying that it did not have the right to enter Verkhnoshyrokivske. They also said that it was not safe for the SMM to proceed inside the village due to the possible presence of UXO. The SMM could see, however, people and cars in Verkhnoshyrokivske.

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 demining 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 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:

  • At a checkpoint on road T0513 in Horlivka, armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM requesting it to open the trunks of its vehicles. After checking the trunks, the “DPR” members allowed the SMM to proceed. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • In “LPR”-controlled Diakove (70km south-west of Luhansk), unarmed “LPR” members approached the SMM and asked about the purpose and destination of the SMM’s visit and the names of the SMM patrol members. The SMM provided the requested information. The “LPR” members wrote down the SMM patrol members’ names, the licence plates of the SMM vehicles and escorted the SMM to their destinations (Leonove and the border crossing point in Leonove). 

[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.

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