Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 2 December 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it observed calm situations in each. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including near Siedove and Samiilove.* It followed up on reports of shelling at a grain production facility in Yasynuvata. The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Netailove. It observed Ukrainian Armed Forces positions in southern areas of Verkhnotoretske. In Luhansk city the SMM saw Russian Federation flags placed alongside “LPR” flags outside certain buildings. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure in Vesela Hora. The SMM visited three border areas not under the control of the Government.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations[1], including, however, more than 170 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 100 explosions).

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 30 November the SMM heard 80 undetermined explosions and small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire 3-5km south-east and 6-7km east and south. On 1 December, while at the same location, the SMM heard 33 undetermined explosions 4-7km south-east.

On the night of 30 November-1 December the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded eight undetermined explosions 0.5-1.5km south. On 1 December the camera recorded, in sequence, three undetermined explosions, three projectiles in flight from east to west, three undetermined explosions, followed by a total of four undetermined explosions and 25 projectiles from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south.

In the early hours of 1 December the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, seven projectiles from east to west and 12 projectiles from west to east, all 5-8km north.

Positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard eight undetermined explosions 2-4km south and south-west. Later, positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 2-4km west and south-west.

Positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for about five hours, the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions, infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) fire and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-4km south and south-east.

Positioned in government-controlled Sukha Balka (36km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions 10-15km south-south-east.

Positioned in the Trudivski area of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district (15km south-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard uncountable bursts and shots of small-arms fire 1-2km south-west.

Positioned about 800m north of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard 27 undetermined explosions south-west in a two-minute period.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded ceasefire violations, including 25 explosions (none in the previous reporting period).

On the evening of 30 November-1 December, while in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions about 10-15km south-east and 14 explosions assessed as artillery rounds about 8-10km south-west.

On 30 November the SMM followed up on reports from the Russian Federation officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) of shellingat a grain production facility in Yasynuvata. At the centre for grain production on 97 Zhovtneva  Street in Yasynuvata the SMM saw a hole in a west–north-western-facing part of a wall of a building housing grain storage silos and saw that an exterior pipe next to the hole had metal sections affixed to it. The SMM also observed a hole in the south-facing part of an exterior grain silo, metal fragments on the ground beneath and also saw exposed wiring from an electrical cable. The SMM saw no craters or shrapnel damage at the facility. A guard at the facility told the SMM that it had been shelled at about 19:20 on 27 November and that the shells had not exploded. He also said that no one had been injured.

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.*

Positioned in all three disengagement areas on 1 December, 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 a government-controlled area, the SMM observed three howitzers (D-20, 152mm) being towed by military trucks south to north near Netailove (22km north-west of Donetsk).

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 six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) present and noted that 12 continued to be absent.

The SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons permanent storage sites whose locations were beyond withdrawal lines and observed that 46 tanks (T-64) and seven mortars (four 2B9, 82mm and three PM-38, 120mm) continued to be absent.

The SMM revisited a weapons permanent storage site in areas under “DPR” control whose location was beyond withdrawal lines and observed that seven tanks (T-64) continued to be absent.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles (ACV) and anti-aircraft weapons[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw one armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BRDM) and one IFV (BTR-4) near Makarove (19km north-east of Luhansk), one ACV (Spartan) near Novhorodske (35km north of Donetsk), seven APCs (BTR-80) in Verkhnotoretske (23km north-east of Donetsk) and an ACV near Novobakhmutivka (28km north of Donetsk). The SMM also spotted about 100 soldiers in Svitlodarsk – an unusually high number.

In areas not controlled by the Government the SMM saw a convoy of 13 APCs (MT-LB) and eight anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23-2) near Irmino (54km west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to engage with the sides and the JCCC to try and gain access to Travneve (51km north-east of Donetsk). Aerial imagery revealed, on 28 November, seven fresh craters assessed as caused by mortar rounds near a tree-line about 800m south-south-east of the railway station in Dolomitne (53km north-east of Donetsk).

Aerial imagery showed, on 28 November, Ukrainian Armed Forces positions in southern areas of Verkhnotoretske, which were not observed in imagery from 17 November. The imagery also showed two groupings of six fresh craters each, assessed as caused by artillery rounds (122mm) on “DPR” positions about 600-650m east of the eastern edge of the village, that the SMM assessed had been fired from the south-east. Imagery also showed three distinct groupings of craters nearby in areas between “DPR” and Ukrainian Armed Forces positions assessed as caused by mortar rounds (82mm). In Verkhnotoretske on 1 December the SMM saw seven APCs (BTR-80) (see above) and about 30 soldiers (an unusually large military presence in the town).

In Luhansk city the SMM observed flags of the Russian Federation placed alongside “LPR” flags for the first time outside certain public buildings. It saw the flags on five buildings used by “LPR” members. No Russian Federation flags were observed on other public buildings.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to the power substation in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk).

The SMM visited three border areas not under government control. At the border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about an hour, the SMM saw 33 cars (13 with Ukrainian, nine with Russian Federation, one with Georgian, one with Latvian, and one with Belarusian licence plates; and eight with “DPR” plates), two covered cargo trucks (one with Ukrainian licence plates; and with one “DPR” plates), five covered heavy goods trucks (two with Ukrainian, two with Russian Federation and one with Armenian licence plates), four buses (two with Ukrainian, one with Russian Federation licence plates; and one with “DPR” plates) carrying about 20 passengers each, and eight pedestrians in queues to exit Ukraine. The SMM also saw 21 cars (five with Ukrainian, 12 with Russian Federation licence plates; and four with “DPR” plates), three vans (one with Ukrainian licence plates; and two with “DPR” plates), four covered heavy goods trucks (with Ukrainian licence plates) and two buses (both with Ukrainian licence plates-one carrying about 40 passengers, the other about 30 passengers) entering Ukraine.

At the border crossing point near Novoazovsk (102km south-east of Donetsk) the SMM saw seven cars (two with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates) exiting Ukraine, and three cars (two with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) entering. The SMM saw a military-type truck (Kamaz) carrying about ten persons in military-type clothing travelling towards the town of Novoazovsk from Siedove (106km south of Donetsk).

At the Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about an hour, the SMM saw 20 cars (16 with Ukrainian, three Russian Federation and one with Lithuanian licence plates), one bus (Russian Federation licence plates, carrying about 25 passengers), and seven pedestrians exiting Ukraine. During the same period, the SMM saw 16 cars (eight Ukrainian and eight Russian Federation licence plates), one bus (Russian Federation licence plates, carrying about 25 passengers), and 14 pedestrians (11 men and three women, aged 25-45) entering Ukraine.

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 below, for example) 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:

  • Two armed men stopped the SMM at a checkpoint north-west of “DPR”-controlled Siedove (near the border with the Russian Federation) and denied the SMM access – citing orders to do so. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • An armed man denied the SMM access to a compound near “DPR”-controlled Samiilove (89km south of Donetsk and about 1-2km from the border with the Russian Federation), citing orders to do so. The SMM informed the JCCC.

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 (20km north of Luhansk) 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 table 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. Four SMM cameras continue to be tested until the end of December 2017.

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