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

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region between the evenings of 17 and 18 November compared with the previous reporting period and more in Luhansk region. In both regions the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations between the evenings of 18 and 19 November compared with the previous 24 hours. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations near the Petrivske and Zolote disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere.* The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Zalizne and Artema. It visited three border areas not under government control. The Mission observed public gatherings in Odessa and Kyiv.

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 17 and 18 November, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, more explosions (about 160), compared with the previous reporting period (about 60 explosions). Between the evenings of 18 and 19 November, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 290 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours.

On the evening and night of 17-18 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, in aggregate, 12 undetermined explosions, 3-5km east-south-east. The following evening, the camera recorded, in aggregate, seven tracer rounds in flight from north to south followed by a projectile in flight from south to north, all 3-5km east-south-east.

On 19 November, positioned at the south-western edge of Avdiivka, the SMM heard about 40 undetermined explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, 2-4km south and south-west.

On the evening and night of 17-18 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in aggregate, 20 tracer rounds from east to west, two tracer rounds from west to east, 23 projectiles in flight from east to west, six projectiles from west to east, a projectile from south-east to north-west, 42 undetermined explosions, two explosions assessed as impacts, and two explosions assessed as outgoing, all 0.5-1.5km south.

The following evening, the same camera recorded, in aggregate, 61 undetermined explosions, 28 tracer rounds from east to west, three tracer rounds from west to east, 35 projectiles from east to west, 16 projectiles from south-east to north-west, three projectiles from north-west to south-east, two projectiles from west to east, two illumination flares, and an airburst, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On the evening of 18 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station recorded, in aggregate, 14 undetermined explosions, 22 tracer rounds from east to west, four projectiles from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south.

During the day on 18 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for almost six hours, the SMM heard about 50 explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, 1-8km west and north-west. The following day, positioned in the same location for about five hours, the SMM heard about 50 undetermined explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, 1-5km at directions ranging from south-west to north-west.

In the evening of 17 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard about 40 explosions assessed as outgoing 3-5km south-east as well as almost 70 explosions assessed as impacts, and nearly 200 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-7km at directions ranging from east to south. In the morning on 18 November, while in Svitlodarsk, the SMM heard 25 explosions assessed as impacts, 5-7km south-east. That evening, while in the same location, the SMM heard two explosions assessed as outgoing, 4-6km south-south-east, as well as eight explosions assessed as impacts (including two assessed as impacts of mortar rounds) and, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-6km south-south-east. The following day, from the same position, the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions, six explosions assessed as outgoing infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-1) cannon (73mm) rounds and six assessed as their resultant impacts, all 1-7km at directions ranging from east to south-south-east.

During the day on 18 November, positioned at the central railway station in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) for about 90 minutes, the SMM heard about 30 undetermined explosions and small arms fire, 1-6km at directions ranging from north-west to north-north-east.

During the day on 18 November, positioned on the north-western edge of “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 24 undetermined explosions 6-10km southwest and 18 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds 4-6km south-south-east. That evening, while in Horlivka, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions 8-12km north and north-west, and ten undetermined explosions 5-10km south and south-west.

Positioned about 2km north-west of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk) on 18 November, the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions and ten bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-7km north-west to north.

During the day on 18 November, positioned in government-controlled Zalizne (former Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 7-10km at directions ranging from east to south, and two undetermined explosions 2-3km south.

During the evening and night of 17-18 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in aggregate, seven undetermined explosions, 18 tracer rounds from west to east, 26 tracer rounds from east to west, 112 tracer rounds from south-east to north-west, an illumination flare, all 5-8km north. The following evening, the same camera recorded, in aggregate, an illumination flare, ten tracer rounds from east to west, and a tracer round from west to east, all 5-8km north. The evening of 19 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne recorded, in aggregate, 50 projectiles from east to west and nine projectiles from west to east, all 5-8km north.

On 19 November, positioned 1km north-north-west of government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard over 50 undetermined explosions, as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, at an undetermined distance south-south-east.

On 19 November, positioned 1km north of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 17 undetermined explosions, an explosion assessed as an outgoing round, and four explosions assessed as impacts (one of which was assessed as the impact of a mortar round), as well as heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1.5-4km at directions ranging from south to west.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 200 explosions, between the evenings of 17 and 18 November, compared with the previous reporting period (70 explosions). It recorded more ceasefire violations, including over 300 explosions, between the evenings of 18 and 19 November, compared with the previous 24 hours.

In the evening of 17 November, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 148 undetermined explosions (including 66 explosions assessed as those of artillery fire), about 30 bursts and shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire, and about 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 5-15km south-east and east-south-east. The following evening, while in the same location, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions, eight bursts of IFV (BMP-2) cannon fire, and ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-7km east-south-east.

On 19 November, positioned in Popasna, the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 8-10km south-south-east as well as 39 undetermined explosions, and 14 bursts of IFV (BMP-2) cannon fire, and seven bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 6-8km east-south-east. Positioned on the south-eastern edge of Popasna the same day, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions and 13 bursts of (BMP-2) cannon, all 5km east-south-east.

On 19 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and 136 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-10km west-north-west. Positioned on the eastern edge of Kalynove, the SMM heard 65 undetermined explosions, six bursts of anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) fire, 33 shots of IFV (BMP-2) cannon fire, and 56 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 10-15km west-south-west, and 12 undetermined explosions10-15km west.

On 19 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard more than 100 explosions and about 70 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 5-10km at directions ranging from south-south-west to north-west.

On 19 November, positioned 3.5km south-west of “LPR”-controlled Almazna (55km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 111 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 10-15km west-south-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.*

On 15 November, the SMM camera in Petrivske recorded, in aggregate, 17 tracer rounds in flight from west to east, 0.5-1km west-north-west; the Mission was unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area.

On 18 November, positioned on the western edge of Zolote, the SMM recorded 34 undetermined explosions 8-12km south-south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area. The same day, positioned on the southern edge of Zolote, the SMM recorded four undetermined explosions 10km north, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 18 November, positioned in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 4-6km south-south-east and three shots of small-arms-fire 2-3km south; it was unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area.

On 19 November positioned near the SMM camera in the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions 5-12km south-south-east, assessed as outside the disengagement area. The same day, positioned in Zolote, the SMM heard four bursts of IFV (BMP-2) cannon fire and seven shots of small-arms fire 3-6km south-south-east; it was unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area. Positioned on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions 6-10km south-south-west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

Positioned in Petrivske and Stanytsia Luhanska on 19 November, 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 on 19 November, in a non-government-controlled area, the SMM saw ten multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near “LPR”-controlled Khrustalnyi (formerly Krasnyi Luch, 56km south-west of Luhansk).

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, the SMM observed eight surface-to-air missile systems (9K33 Osa) near Smolianynove (61km north-west of Luhansk) and another surface-to-air missile system (9K33) near Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk).

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. On 18 November, in non-government controlled areas of Donetsk region, the SMM noted that ten anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 11 MLRS (BM-21), and nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) continue to be missing.

On 19 November, the SMM revisited a heavy weapons permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area and noted that a towed howitzer (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), four MLRS (BM-21), three self-propelled howitzers (2S1) and five towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) were still missing. The SMM noted the presence of additional weapons.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] and recently dug trenches in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, on 18 November, the SMM observed two IFVs (BMP‑1) west of Svitlodarsk, two IFVs (BMP-1) in Popasna, and two IFVs (BMP-2) and an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (KrAZ Cougar) on the northern edge of the Zolote disengagement area.

In non-government-controlled areas, on 18 November, the SMM observed three new trenches, each approximately 40m long, 3-4m wide and 2m deep near Zaichenko, an APC (BTR-80) with three armed men atop in Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), and an APC (BTR-80) with three armed men atop in the southern outskirts of Kalynove. On 19 November, in government controlled areas, the SMM observed an IFV (BMP-2) in Zolote.

The SMM again monitored the presence – and facilitated the clearance – of mines and UXO, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), of the M03 road between Svitlodarsk and Debaltseve. Near a bunker in non-government-controlled areas west of M03, the SMM observed a sapper pick up an unexploded barrel-launched grenade off the road and throw it into the vegetation alongside the road. While driving on M03, the SMM observed armed men dragging at least five mines off the road as well as, along the non‑government‑controlled stretch of the road, at least 20 mines lying along the side of the road, four wire-guided anti-tank missile tubes and two ammunition boxes. Along the government-controlled stretch of the road, the SMM observed around 20 mines on the sides of the roadway and a row of at least four mines extending north-west, perpendicularly from the road. Following the removal of the mines on the road, the SMM was able to travel between the towns.

The SMM observed three anti-tank mines about 30m north of the road between Pyshchevyk and “DPR”-controlled Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol), less than 2km east of Pyshchevyk, for the first time.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co‑ordinated by the JCCC, on 18 November to the phenol sludge reservoir in government‑controlled Zalizne and the Petrivske water pumping station in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk).

The SMM visited fiveborder areas not under government control. While at the pedestrian border crossing point in Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for 25 minutes on 18 November, the SMM observed three pedestrians entering Ukraine and a pedestrian exiting Ukraine. While at the pedestrian border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) for 30 minutes on 18 November, the SMM observed six pedestrians entering Ukraine and two pedestrians exiting Ukraine. While at the border crossing point near Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol) for 25 minutes on 18 November, the SMM observed eight cars (five with Ukrainian, one with Russian Federation licence plates, and two with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine, as well as three cars (one with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) exiting Ukraine.

While at the border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for an hour on 18 November, the SMM observed eight cars (six with Ukrainian, one with Russian Federation and one with Belarusian licence plates), four covered cargo-trucks (three with Ukrainian and one with Belarusian licence plates), and 27 pedestrians entering Ukraine, as well as 23 cars (14 with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates), three covered cargo-trucks (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) and 49 pedestrians exiting Ukraine. While at the border crossing point near Dovzhanske (84km south-east of Luhansk) for about an hour on 19 November, the SMM observed 11 cars (three with Ukrainian and eight with Russian Federation licence plates) and three pedestrians enter Ukraine, as well as 18 cars (seven with Ukrainian and 11 with Russian Federation licence plates), two buses with Ukrainian licence plates, 13 covered cargo-trucks with Ukrainian licence plates, and 20 pedestrians exiting Ukraine.

The SMM monitored public gatherings in Odessa and Kyiv. On 18 November at City Garden square in Odessa, the SMM observed about 1,500 demonstrators (both men and women, aged between 20 and 55; 100 of whom were concealing their faces with scarves), chanting slogans and waving banners, protesting the cutting of trees and a construction project. The SMM recognized among participants members of the groups Green Leaf, Street Front, National Corps, Right Sector, Auto-Maidan and Svoboda. The SMM also observed more than 200 special police officers with helmets and batons and National Guard officers. The SMM observed four to five young male protestors hitting what appeared to be a bystander and police deploying stun grenades and tear gas. In the crowd, the SMM observed a police officer bleeding from his head. The clashes came to an end within ten minutes, and the protest continued to the Odessa city hall. Some 200 protestors remained at City Garden square when the SMM departed.

On 19 November, in Kyiv, the SMM monitored some 500 people (80 per cent male, middle-aged) who had gathered in Constitution Square, waving Ukrainian and red-and-black flags as well as placards protesting corruption. An opposition politician, a journalist, and others addressed the crowd. The SMM observed 20-30 National Guard and police officers; the situation was calm.

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

*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:

  • On 18 and 19 November, 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 on both occasions.
  • On 18 and 19 November, 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 and informed the JCCC on both occasions.
  • On 18 and 19 November, 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 on both occasions.
  • On 18 and 19 November, the SMM did not consider it safe to 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 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. 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.