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

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas and recorded ceasefire violations inside the Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske disengagement areas. Its access remained restricted in all three areas and elsewhere.* The SMM saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines in Kostiantynivka and Volnovakha, and near Aslanove and Poltavka. The Mission observed the presence of mine hazard signs as well as boxes with firing cables attached to them near Novotroitske. It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance to essential infrastructure near Marinka and Artema. The Mission visited a border area not under government control.The Mission monitored the situation along the administrative boundary line between Kherson region and Crimea.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 100 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 150 explosions).

On the evening of 1 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 34 undetermined explosions and about 120 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 5-6km south-west. During the day on 2 November, while in the same location, the SMM heard ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 4-5km south-west.

On the evening of 1 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded 16 projectiles in flight from north to south, all 5-7km south-east.

On the evening and night of 1-2 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two projectiles in flight from east to west, nine projectiles from north to south, four projectiles from east to west, a projectile from west to east, a projectile from east to west, four projectiles from west to east and three projectiles from east to west, all 0.5-2km south.

During the day on 2 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for over three hours, the SMM heard four undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 1-3km west and north-west. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about two hours, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions 1-4km north-west.

Positioned on the northern edge of “DPR”-controlled Karpovo-Nadezhdynka (61km east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 56 undetermined explosions, all 5-8km north-north-west, assessed as part of a live-fire exercise.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including 15 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 30 explosions).

During the day on 2 November, positioned in Novooleksandrivka (65km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5km south.

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 the evening and night of 29-30 October, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded, in sequence, five tracer rounds in flight from west to east, three tracer rounds from north to south, three tracer rounds from north-west to south-east, six tracer rounds from west to east and three tracers from south to north, all 0.5-2km south and south-west and assessed as inside the disengagement area.

On the evening of 1 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an explosion assessed as an impact of a mortar round 3-4.5km south to south-south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), as well as an explosion assessed as an impact of a mortar round and ten undetermined explosions, of which eight were assessed as rounds of either recoilless-gun (type unknown) or rocket-propelled grenade fire and two were assessed as mortar rounds, all 3-5km south (the Mission was unable to assess whether they had occurred inside or outside the disengagement area). On the night of 1-2 November, while in the same location, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion at an undetermined distance south; the Mission was unable to assess whether it had occurred inside or outside the disengagement area. During the day on 2 November, positioned 500m north of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3-4km west, assessed as outside the disengagement area.

On 2 November, positioned in government-controlled Zolote, and Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk), west of the Petrivske disengagement area, 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, on 1 November, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted a probable self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) stationary near Aslanove (85km south of Donetsk) and, on 2 November, the SMM saw 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) being loaded onto a train at the railway station in Kostiantynivka (60km north of Donetsk), a stationary self-propelled howitzer (2S3) in Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk) and three multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near Poltavka (54km north-west of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites, in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw 12 stationary self-propelled howitzers (2S3) at the railway station in Rubizhne (84km north-west of Luhansk) and a self-propelled howitzer (2S1) near Rodynske (59km 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 areas outside government control beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed six towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and noted that three towed howitzers (2A65), 19 MLRS (BM-21), ten anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) and 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S1) were again missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government‑controlled areas, the SMM saw two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (MT-LB) on flatbed trucks near Umanske (25km north-west of Donetsk) and four infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) (BMP-2), as well as two light armoured vehicles (Kraz Cougar) transporting an IFV (BMP-variant) and a reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-2) near Novotroitske (36km south-west of Donetsk).

The SMM observed the presence of mine hazard signs as well as boxes with firing cables attached to them. Under a bridge on road H20 in Novotroitske, the SMM saw, for the first time, nine square wooden boxes (0.5m in length, width and height) placed at 1m intervals about 10-15m above the ground on the bridge’s support bracket between the bridge’s support pillars and the road. The SMM saw what it assessed to be firing cables attached to each box.

In Novotroitske on Pershotravneva Street, the SMM saw two mine hazard signs (one on the northern side and one on the southern side of the street). Both signs were square and read “mines” in Russian language (one had red writing on a white background and the other had red writing on a wooden background).

On road H20, 300m north of a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint about 3km north-east of Volnovakha, the SMM saw a square sign with “CP” written in blue on a white background (assessed to mean demining control point), a parking area next to the sign cordoned off with sticks and a mine hazard sign with “warning” in red letters on a white background in Ukrainian language. In a field west of the checkpoint, the SMM saw red wooden sticks.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance, co‑ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), to power lines on the eastern outskirts of government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) and the pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk).

The SMM visited a border area not under government control. During 20 minutes at a border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw two pedestrians (both women in their twenties) entering Ukraine.

The SMM continued monitoring the administrative boundary line between Kherson region and Crimea. At around mid-day on 1 November, the SMM visited a crossing point near the village of Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson) and noted that it was operating normally with vehicles and pedestrians passing. A State Border Guard Service officer informed the SMM that the crossing point had been closed on 1 November between 01:30 and 11:00.

The SMM continued monitoring in 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 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 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 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. 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.
  • 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.

Other impediments

  • An SMM interlocutor in “LPR”-controlled Novosvitlivka (16km south-east of Luhansk) refused to speak to the SMM without written permission from the “LPR” members in Luhansk city.

[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, expected to last until 30 November 2017.

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